I was asked recently why I wrote this memoir, so I thought I’d try to answer that in this week’s blog post.
Growing up, I always had books on my mind and always knew I wanted to write one, or maybe many, but writing Flying Alone was more spontaneous than planned. It was as though, unbeknownst to me, a seed was planted when I took my first flying lesson on December 26, 1984, and it germinated and grew like a weed for the next six years. There were branches and offshoots and, while some pieces withered and died, it developed into a full-sized tree over the years.
When my flying career ended in 1990, I think I was still in shock from the combination of scares, close calls and losses of the previous years, along with the multiple sclerosis diagnosis. Even still, I had the wherewithal to know I needed to write it all down.
Flying Alone was not going to be a memoir, even though all the events and characters are real. It was going to be a novel. Actually, it was to be a memoir masquerading as a novel, complete with names changed to protect the innocent and not so innocent. This way, I could fully reveal the events without having to own them. Even though I wasn’t ready to expose some of it, I still pushed those thoughts aside and wrote… and wrote. The memories were fresh, and I could record them in the greatest detail. After completing the writing, I put it in a closet but never stopped thinking about it. Well, the time passed until about two years ago when I knew I was ready to polish and publish.
Okay, so that’s why I wrote it. I’ve continued to think about the question — “Why did you write it?” — and realized it could also mean “Why did you publish it?” In other words, what message am I trying to give to readers?
Revisiting the manuscript was a cathartic process. I had forgotten some of the details and was so glad I had written it when I did. Reading some of the chapters had me on the edge of my seat as I relived the events. I began to see that my story could serve a purpose other than as an entertaining read. Perhaps it could be helpful to other aspiring pilots. Maybe it would have meaning for women struggling in unhealthy relationships. And it could even be a source of inspiration for people living under the burden of chronic illness and trying to live full lives.
These reasons alone were all important enough to merit publication.