In October 2015, I was a fixture in front of my laptop. I spent endless hours painstakingly polishing the final draft of my first book, From Fertile Ground. It’s the story of my journey after my mother’s death in 2013.
With help from a trail of letters and diary entries my mother and grandfather left behind, writing renewed my spirit. It led me out of the darkness and propelled me forward. After grief swallowed me whole, I finally reemerged and rediscovered sunlight at the end of a numb and winding road.
Intuitively, I realized I needed to share my story openly with the world. That of a gay man, loving husband, devoted father and grateful son searching for answers. I dreamed it would help others find a new path and navigate their way through grief.
Not long after I published From Fertile Ground in February 2016, friends and strangers began to post reviews online. They described how they were moved by the book and its lessons of love and loss. My dream was coming true.
By the end of 2017, things had gotten rather quiet. That’s what happens with books and creative accomplishments. They come and go no matter how much you want them to linger. They flash across the sky like shooting stars and then fall off the radar.
Fortunately, every once in a while, there is a glimmer or twinkle to remind you of their importance long after they first appear. That happened last week when I read a new review posted on Goodreads and Amazon … a review that reminded me why I decided to publish the book in the first place:
“This book is a life compass if you are experiencing loss or disruption in your family.
From Fertile Ground came to me at precisely the right time in my life. Mark’s perspective and reflection helped me to navigate loss and disruption in my own life. I pulled from his examples and experiences to temper my feelings and expectations. I ultimately gained a great deal of comfort and reassurance from his novel, and I continue to think back on it often as my life continues to evolve.
Throughout the book, I enjoyed getting to know Mark and his family. They are relatable people demonstrating courage, compassion, and love. The poem he wrote and included that was a tribute to his mom was one of my favorites. I also really enjoyed seeing his relationship with his children evolve from childhood to adulthood.”
This is the kind of glorious feedback that motivates me to keep sharing stories. To shine a light on truths … both personal and universal. To bring a little love, inspiration, comfort and reassurance to a world that really needs it. To devote time each day to my literary passion. To pen the next poem and dust off that fictionalized piece that I keep going back to. To live the life of a writer. It’s what I was meant to do. It is my fertile ground.
6 thoughts on “After Grief Swallowed Me Whole”
Hmm, your “devoted father” identity is news to me. I haven’t read about that yet on your blog. For the short period of time that my memoir got reviews, I flew high. There’s nothing quite like the feeling when someone sits down with intention and reads your writing. From time to time, I see people on Amazon reading my books and I wonder what they think. I’ve personally gotten better about leaving feedback after realizing that feedback is what I crave. I’d rather get bad than none.
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Thank you for your frequent comments here, Jeff. Yes … feedback is king. I suppose I haven’t talked much about my fatherhood here, but I’m proud of that aspect of my life. I have two sons, 35 and 30. One now lives in Arizona, the other in Chicago. They’re great guys. I’ve written extensively about them in From Fertile Ground and An Unobstructed View.
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So as I was writing my comment what was running through my head was “well, duh, read his book” One more to add to my list. Fatherhood is rarely discussed on wordpress (not so many male bloggers). I’m always curious about father/child relationships.
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Good observation about the general lack of stories about fatherhood. It is a major theme in An Unobstructed View, including reflections about my life with my sons in the 90s when I was a single dad struggling to get through life and give them a decent home … as well as stories about them as adults as I was leaving Illinois and moving to Arizona.
It’s always good to be acknowledged by those who appreciate your writing and ideas. You wrote a fine book, and people will be reading it for a long time.
Thank you, Tom. You always have the right perspective!