Monday, November 28, 2011


I began writing my book more than ten years ago. I had just survived a very difficult and serious second liver transplant. It seemed like the appropriate time to seek closure from years of illness. The process of writing a book took much longer than I had anticipated. I had heard this cliche before and was sure it wouldn't apply to me. Yeah right...

I sat at the old graphics design table in the quietest room of our house one night, and began to write. Before connecting pen and paper, I asked myself, how am I going to do this when I've never written anything before, especially never in English? I spoke well enough, but did that mean I could write an entire book? Maybe I should write it in German.

I decided to write in English. The majority of my hospital stays had still been in Germany up to that point, but the transplants had taken place in the U.S., and therefore medical expressions and terminology were at the tip of my tongue. The first outline was done within a few days.

The words flowed out of my mind onto the keys of my computer and lit up its screen. A month after the outline, I had typed over 800 pages. For someone like me who is not particularly known for my memory, I was amazed that every detail was in my mind as if things had happened yesterday. It seems that traumatizing events stay with you. Once this first draft was finished, I put it away for several months. Although I had written a lot, I didn't have a conclusion to my story.

I picked up my manuscript much later and read it again. I couldn't believe what I had written. The story was fine, after all it was pretty much carved in cement since it was a faithful account of my life. But rather because I never realized how poorly I spoke English. The grammar was fine. My mother had seen to this growing up. However, expressions and wording of sentences, all of it was 'off'.

I began listening much more closely to the radio and television. Whenever a particular expression suited what I was writing about I used it. Little by little, the second and third drafts came together. Even though, I still didn't have a conclusion.

While my English was improving, my story wasn't. Not until I gave it to my husband to read did he point out the immense flaw. The solution might be simple, the execution of it, not so simple. I put the manuscript away for several more months still unsure how to fix it.

In my manuscript I had cast myself as a superhero defeating death. My story lacked honesty; honesty, first and foremost, towards myself. I had become so adept at burying my feelings in order to deal with my health issues, that I couldn't bring them to the surface anymore. I hadn't included them in my writing. The act of putting events on paper forced me to confront emotions I had never dared face before. Draft by draft I began removing layer after layer of thick skin. Like an onion, I peeled off a barrier at a time to get to the real story. I imagine this is the type of work therapists do.

By the time I reached draft number XXL, I felt as if I had spent years in therapy. The more I delved into my state of mind during my illness, the deeper the sense of relief. My manuscript was taking shape, but I still didn't have a conclusion.

Ten years flew by in a flash, but illness didn't let go of me. I wound up having a third liver transplant and a new kidney. This last physical trauma had to become my conclusion, the final chapter after twenty-eight years of roller-coaster health.

Finally, I felt confident enough to relinquish my finished manuscript to my most genuine critic. My husband's talent to take a story and find its heart proved invaluable. Once again I ended up under the knife...well, my manuscript did. He and I slashed the repetitive moments, carved out my sometimes harsh words, surgically removed all boring lengths and stitched my story together by keeping the best moments. Hopefully we succeeded.


  1. Just bought it. Can't wait to read it. Here's the link to Amazon:

  2. Thank you Stuart. I hope you enjoy it! Please let me know. I'm open to all, that includes criticism.