These writing posts are meant to give a glimpse into both my life as a freelance writer and also the personal writing that I do on my own. Writing is such a big part of my life and this blog is only a small portion of that. Whether it’s writing about the process of creating a book or what exactly I do as a full-time freelancer, hopefully it will give you some insight into my life as a writer if you’re curious.
This past Friday, August 4th, was my grandmother’s birthday and she would have been ninety-one years old. It has been seven years since she passed away and as her health was failing, I began to learn about her life back in Poland bit by bit.
It started when I lived abroad as a student and Krakow became a second home. It continued when I traveled on a solo trip through Northern Poland, and then went on to visit my grandmother’s village an hour outside of Krakow city limits. The chapters of her life before she immigrated to the U.S and settled down in Chicago slowly revealing themselves to me.
As I learned more about her stories: losing her mother to illness early on in life, working on a German farm as a teenager during World War II, falling in love with my grandfather in Germany after the war and deciding to make the courageous decision to start a new life across the Atlantic, the more I felt responsible for telling them.
As I lived and visited Poland, I began to also learn more about the devastating history, but at the same time the resilient spirit of the country that held my heritage. With this background, my grandmother’s stories suddenly became three-dimensional.
Unlike my grandmother who was a devout Catholic, I am not religious at all. But I do believe in signs like no other. At my grandmother’s funeral, I met my second cousin Halina for the first time (my dad had no idea she existed). We kept in touch and the following year, I wrote to her to say I was going to travel to Krakow, and it turns out she would be there at the same time visiting family in my grandmother’s village and she would be more than happy to show me around.
If that’s not a sign, I’m not sure what is.
But going to my grandmother’s village, with Halina was just the beginning. The hardest part is writing down those stories and turning them into a book of some sort-the ultimate end goal. I have started and stopped writing this book so many times, not sure what’s important and what’s trivial. How do I tell her story? How much do I incorporate mine? What if I get the details scrambled? A hundred what ifs. So that’s the internal dialogue I have in my head as I sit down to sort out these stories that I’ve inherited. Whatever I do, I know that I must keep writing them down.