A couple of weeks ago I was flicking through my book collection; it was time to trim it down some. I didn’t have a huge amount of books but it was more than one box, and and I wanted no more than a box. I was also looking forward to giving away some books to my local library.
The local library was one of the constants of my childhood, ably fueling the fire of my literary love. As a child I could easily get through five books a week. And no amount of birthday or Christmas presents or even the books at school was going to keep up with my voracious apetite.
Anyway as I was sorting through, I uncovered The Rest of Us by Jacquelyn Mitchard. I’d made the unassuming purchase at a second-hand bookstore in Australia years ago. I read it while I was travelling and I loved it. I think looking back it coincided with an increasing knowing that I would not only be a writer for myself but that I would start putting it out ‘there’ for public consumption.
It sounds slighty odd making this admission now, but there was a time when I would wonder how people could put their writing in the world, and at that point I was referring to fiction, not even real life stuff.
Making my way through Mitchard’s book I saw the magic of being able to write about everyday life with humour and insight.. and vulnerability. It was compelling reading for me. It tipped me over the edge – I wanted to be part of this storytelling lark. The book was a collection of essays that were birthed from her years of writing a regular newspaper column.
Those same years were also filled with adopting a baby girl on her own, marriage, infertility, then unexpectedly having children, the death of her still relatively young husband and much more. And within it all Mitchard weaves social commentary including much on women’s rights and abilities.
I was and am inspired by her knack for seeing stories in anything and everything, that she went on to make a very good living from her writing at a time when she thought she had no right to dream, and that she was vulnerable enough to share her life with the rest of us, and for me, help fan into flames a fledgling love.
This is one book I won’t be giving away.
‘..I remembered something Dan had told me before he died. I’d been wailing about how I couldn’t live without him, when he suddenly said to me, “Listen. In two years’ time, you’ll be far from here. You’ll be a writer of merit. But you have to believe in it, like I believe in you.”‘
From the Rest of Us by Jacquelyn Mitchard