How Writing Can Surprise You

Writing can trick you. You can think that you're writing about one thing, and on one level you are, but you are also writing about something else.

I wanted to write Joy Returns! because I wanted to capture that moment that I remembered of falling in love with music. But as I wrote the book, I realized that it was also about staying true to your creativity and holding on despite what happens and what other people do. Similarly, when I wrote Kate and the Horses, I knew I wanted to write about the horses that I knew when I was young. I didn't realize that I was about to embark on a journey where I would really explore how I felt alone and different in the world.

I had to write this current book because my cat died, and I promised her before she died that I would. I believe she was pleased about that, but the promise was more so my heart wouldn't completely break. I had a project to do. I wanted to honor her and other cats that I've known in my life. But, as the project has gone on, I'm not sure if I'm writing about cats or about all different parts of me. The book has become a story of figuring out where is home. Two months ago, the day after I handed over the draft to my beta readers, I received a letter from our landlord, announcing a 37 percent rent increase. We realized that we have been priced out of where we live. Mike and I and our cats would have to find a new home. It felt sudden, and it felt like something that I had been working on for months.

I think we have found a new place. We are going to sign the new lease this week. It is in the Gold Country. It happened in a magical way, like a day when the words seem to fly out of your fingers. We were visiting friends there. We just went to see if we would like it. We had no appointments, nothing organized. But before we left after breakfast, we decided just to go see a house nearby. There happened to be men working outside, and they agreed to let us in. I talked to one of them. I told him we had three cats. I said I had been looking at listings, and no one seemed to want a tenant with animals. He told me he liked cats. I showed him pictures of ours on the phone.

When we got home, we filled out a formal application with the property management company, although we don't look that great on paper. It felt doomed. But they called us back in two days. I had actually been talking to the owner of the property. He liked us. They wanted us as tenants. If all goes right, we'll be moving in a month.

And that's what I think writing does. It opens your heart. It shows you things that you didn't know or you didn't want to think about. It eases pain. It shines sunlight on to wounds. It is powerful medicine.