Those of you, who know me, know how difficult it is for me to let go and put ‘Breathe’ out there for anyone to read. It feels like I’m hanging myself out there with it - to be looked at under the magnifying glass, where you might find things I couldn’t find, or things I was happy to keep to myself.
Those of you who know me, know how I treasure my privacy, how I stay away as much as I can from prying eyes and gossip. (no Facebook, no Twitter, no Instagram…) The ones who were close enough to be part of my life for the past three years while working on ‘Breathe’ know my constant dilemma – to keep it in my drawer or to get it out there.
Those of you who know me, but weren’t part of this new venture, are probably in complete shock at this adventure of mine. As I have to admit, so am I.
I’m not a writer. I’m an artist. For as long as I can remember I was drawn to art – to almost every medium of it, finally deciding on fashion design then touching interior design and household decorative items.
I never wrote or thought I’d be writing. If anyone had told me three years ago, that I’d not only be writing a book, but that I’d also be publishing it - I’d tell them that they’re crazy. The only way I can describe the process of writing ‘Breathe’ is using the cliché saying; it was an “out of body experience”.
I never decided to write. Scenes from the book flashed as movies before my eyes. I actually saw them, heard them as if I was watching a movie. It began with the first scene that played itself over and over again in my mind. When I was driving, then again in the shower, when I was preparing dinner – finally,
I just had to grab a pen and write down what I saw. After that came another scene, and another, not in sequence. I wrote them down and knew that somehow they would connect.
So I started writing, and couldn’t keep up with the pen. (Yes, I wrote it with a pen on paper – dozens, then hundreds of blank white papers that I had to number because they weren’t in sequence, sometimes even cutting them with scissors and taping them to other pages, as if I was building a giant puzzle.) Some of the scenes came so fast, that if I was in the middle of driving, I repeated them out loud to myself, so I wouldn’t forget, until I could stop the car on the side of the road and write them down.
I didn’t know where the story was going – I knew it was Dani’s story and that I needed to listen and
follow her, but that’s all I knew. For those of you who read the book and already know Troy – for most of the writing, I didn’t even know why Dani was after him. Only toward the end I found out why it was so important for her to find him, and I still remember the feeling of shock running through me when I discovered the reason.
So you see, it wasn’t my story. Sure, there are many things in it that resemble my life. A woman I spoke to about the book, said, “Come on, you know that you’re Dani.” Yes, Dani and I have some similarities - we have some of the same biography, we love the same things (Kawasaki Ninja…) and we both believe in love, but I’d never make some of the choices she made and she's so much more courageous then I’ll ever be - although I’m sure that when asked, she’d roll her eyes and say: “Me, courageous?”
English isn’t my first language, as you can probably tell. (Thank God for editors!) People often ask me “why did you write in English?” My answer is, because that’s the language the story came to me in. When I think about it a little deeper, I think it’s also (unconsciously, of course) to further remove Dani from me. To make sure it’s her story and not mine.
When I try to analyze why it came to be, why this story forced itself into my writing left hand, there’s another side that you should know. I used to live with a crippling fear that something terrible was going to happen to the ones that I love. A phobia so big it affected my happiness. I wouldn’t let Jason and the kids leave the house without giving them a kiss and telling them I loved them, in case I never saw them again. In case I’d have to live the rest of my life knowing I didn’t tell them how I felt. I used to wait in almost panic until everyone was home again in the evening – another day had passed without me losing them.
What happened to Dani was my biggest fear come true. She lost her loved ones and was left behind to live her life without them. Through her story I saw how she lost everything that was important to her, but managed to find happiness again. When I finished writing ‘Breathe' my crippling fear was gone. Yes, I still fear that something terrible might happen to my loved ones. I still try to give them a hug and a kiss and tell them I love them when we say goodbye – but my phobia is a fear now, not crippling, not a panic that is out of control, not tightness in my stomach that is affecting my day. It’s reduced to a fear that everyone who has loved ones has, and it’s normal.
I'm not saying everyone should do something as dramatic as Dani did to find happiness, and I'm not saying everyone should write a book to rid themselves of fears, but I do believe that the mind is a powerful thing, and if it’s SO powerful as to provide you something to be paranoid about, to a degree that it affects your life, I believe that if you look hard enough and with the intention to find it, your mind will provide you a way to overcome your terror. That's my 2-cent piece of advice, but what do I know? I'm just a simple artist who unintentionally wrote a book...