Thursday, November 15, 2012

Writing Through Personal Loss

Between The Pages  welcomes our guest author, Jannine Corti Petska. Don't miss reading her blog below, it's heartfelt and inspiring. Now lets get a peek at one of Jannine's books.

About The Book:
Surrender To Honor
Book 2 of the Italian Medieval Series 

Prima Ranieri seeks retribution for her family's death and loss of home and land. Her plans go awry when the heir to the powerful Massaro family returns home. After only one glance, Prima's attraction to him undermines her furor toward those she blames for her plight.

After a fifteen year absence, Antonio Massaro returns to Palermo to find a war raging between his family and the evil Falcone. His refusal to accept his rightful position as the head of the Honored Society carries serious consequences. The welfare of the people of Palermo is at stake. But one look at the beautiful woman Prima has costs him his heart. She's a deadly that jeopardizes her life as well as his own.

Writing Through Personal Loss:
How I Learned to Cope in the Face of Adversity
By Jannine Corti Petska

Everyone handles loss in a different way. As a writer, I've managed to write through each crisis that fell uninvited into my lap. Even as emotions threatened to override the creative thoughts in my head, writing turned out to be an inexpensive form of therapy.

I often reach out to women who have experienced the loss of a loved one. All I could offer them was how I got through the months and years after my mother died in January 1997. I was so overwrought when I heard the news. My life seemed to abruptly stop. I believed I couldn't ever write again, not with my mother—my inspiration—gone. But more than writing a novel got me through.

I'd never kept a journal in my life, except when I spent a few months with my father's family in Italy when I was 18. So many writers have done years of journal writing. Not me. But suddenly I felt the need to begin one on the day my mother died. I pulled out a notebook and began writing to her, as if I was composing a letter or having a one-sided verbal conversation. My feelings, my heart and often my soul have been recorded on those pages.

At first, I wrote to her every day. Only after the first few years could I forgo telling her what went on in my life, my worries, my joys on a daily or weekly basis. Now I write to her only when the need to share arises. A month or two, sometimes even four, will pass before I pull out the journal. But she is never far from my thoughts or my heart.

As difficult as it is to let go of the grief of losing a loved one, I learned that using journals as a form of communication helped me to cope better. No, my mother doesn't respond. Although I do hear voices in my head (what writer doesn't?), hers is silent. But I know she's with me through triumphs and crises. Fifteen and a half years later, that journal is still a lifeline to my mother.

Throughout my adult writing life, I've faced many major crises. Two in particular were life-changing. I wrote a book as I went through each, and it wasn't until years later, when I read the manuscripts, I realized how angry and depressed I was. They showed the extent of my inner self, all reflected in my characters. At the time, I didn't know writing those books was an outlet to express my deepest emotions. But they got me through many a rough time. I'm not sure what I'll do with the completed and terribly overwrought manuscripts, but I am glad I wrote, no matter what. It turned out to be the best medicine for my psyche.

The second book in my Italian medieval series, Surrender to Honor, is set in Palermo and dedicated to my Sicilian mother. I wish she had lived long enough to see me published. I sold my first book two years after her passing.


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  1. Thank you, Jannine. I commented elsewhere that I just recently lost my father, who was my own inspiration in so many ways. I am trying to find my way through the awful grief, and not sure if I will ever really find my way-- or my writing voice-- again. Maybe this loss is a way to find a new voice. I don't know. But I really appreciate your sharing your experience, as difficult as it was. God bless you.


    1. My sympathies for your loss, Phyllis.

      They say time heals all wounds. I discovered with time, I miss my mother more and more. The journal keeps me from falling into deep depression. But in my heart, my mother is always with me.

      Thank you for commenting.