Today I was able to write again for the first time in three weeks. That felt wonderful! I had some minor revisions to make on my essay “Benjy, Awake” for an online literary journal. I’ve admired this journal (name to be disclosed once the deal is done) for a long time now. It’s the perfect home for the essay, and the editors are very excited about it.
What’s so cool about publishing in this venue is that it’s a pretty highly visible website – I think I read somewhere that they receive about 40K unique hits per day (but that might have been per week). And all the writing they publish is truly excellent. It has a niche focus – more on that another time – but there are tons of readers around the world who fit into that niche!
So, here I am, making minor edits to this essay I love and believe in, and the old doubts creep in. Is it right to publish work that deals largely with my son, and publish it under my own name, even if I change his name and everyone else’s? That was the dilemma I faced with the blog, so I reinvented myself as a woman named Anna. But all of my other publications so far are under my real name. If I write anything about anyone in my family I will continue to change their names, of course. But if I don’t publish this essay and all the others I have in the works under my own name, I guess I sort of have to start all over.
I don’t want to start over. I’ve worked hard to get here. I’ve already sacrificed the career I studied years and years for, and worked so hard to excel at, for my family. For Ben, really. And I think that’s a GOOD thing. Because how on earth would he make it in life if I didn’t make him my full-time job?
But my writing is the dearest thing to me in this world, aside from the people I love. I have had some nice successes and a lot of rejection. I sense my star is on the ascendant and I want to go for it. But what if Benjy Googles me, or himself, one day, as I know he will, and finds something that makes him sad? Something that hurts him? What if he feels betrayed and exposed? He knows in a general way that I write about our family, but I’m not sure he knows what that means. He owns his disabilities – all of them – without shame and without fear. I am so proud of that. He’s a bigger man than most.
But does that mean what I’m doing is right? If it’s good for me, good for other families struggling with the same issues, and good for Ben, then of course it is right. But what if it’s good for me and those other folks but not good for Ben? Does that make me a bad mother?
I might have to consult with this guy:
He’s sitting nearby looking a lot wiser than he did while lounging on the above sofa.
Come what may, I have decided to publish “Benjy, Awake” under my own name. And of course, after it’s up on the journal site, anyone who Googles that title will find me. What, then, is keeping me from putting my own name to the blog? And linking my writing website to it? The more readers, the better for me. That is an unequivocal fact. I have blog readers and I have readers of my fiction and my non-fiction. Some of them may unwittingly overlap. But wouldn’t it be great if they all just became General Readers of The Person Currently Known as Anna Delaunay?
(In the same sort of way that listeners to the Artist Formerly Known as Prince were able to continue listening once he became a guy with an unpronounceable symbol for a name. I think it’s the same. Well, maybe not. But I just couldn’t resist.)
It is so hard, balancing Benjy’s needs with my own. I rarely, rarely, put myself first. Maybe never. And maybe now it’s time I did something for me.
I’m waiting for Zeus to hurl the thunderbolt and end the conflict within me. So far all is quiet, except for some faint snoring in the corner. The wise one has fallen asleep, the Chief god will not intervene. The burden is on me to make the right decision. I think I've made it, and I sincerely hope a sinkhole doesn't open up beneath our house and suck us all away.
If you don't hear from me in a couple weeks send help. And stay tuned for whatever happens next.