I've been a writer my entire life, a professional writer since I left college at twenty-two, and an author since I was forty. In that time, I have naturally watched my writing evolve: from eighteen years of salaried newspaper and magazine journalism to the less financially predictable, but ultimately more emotionally satisfying occupation of writing books. Sometimes those books have been well-published, turned into feature films, sold around the globe in translation; sometimes not. Writing for myself on occasion meant writing only for myself. But that was the nature of the beast.
I took the gamble when I traded writing on a weekly paycheck, for the greater freedom of writing longer, more creatively, and with greater authenticity.
In those many years, I wrote daily: from the moment my sons climbed onto their school bus at 7:30 in the morning, to the moment they disembarked at 3:30 in the afternoon. I was a single mom. I wrote to support my family, and I turned out a book-length manuscript approximately every two years. The discipline was no different than when I wrote for an employer - the office space, however, was home. In the evenings and on the weekends, I taught a writers' workshop.
Then, twelve years ago, I met 'Iokepa, and six months later, we joined lives.
So many things changed with that meeting; it becomes impossible to single out a preeminent one. But for the purpose of this story: one of the most earth-shaking changes was around my identity and occupation as a writer. Those tremors still quake under my feet. Those who knew me well know the truth of this.
I never stopped writing during these twelve years. But I no longer called myself a writer.
I never stopped writing, but my tools shifted: My computer gave way to a yellow legal pad and pen. I never stopped writing, but I no longer sat at a roll-top desk in a silent office. I wrote now in public, on a folding beach chair next to a tent. I never stopped writing, but I had no end product in mind - all those words, on all those legal pads, for all those years - for what purpose?
I wrote, as I used to tell my workshop students, "to understand my world and the world around me." Perhaps, it was (freed from any career aspiration) the purest writing of my life. But it was not literature.
And yet, literature has happened from that, "purest writing of my life." There were weeks, and occasionally months, when I was unexpectedly gifted access to one or another lovely, silent house, and to the familiar technology of our computer age.
My mounting stack of legal pads - those scraps of feeling, snatches of insight, and moments of wisdom solidified - jelled into a form. First the concept, then later, the reality; revision after revision, stolen moment after stolen moment, year after year, this singular writing of my life began to look like a book - and then, like the most mature, and important book of my life.
From these twelve years - during which I have been hungry, exhausted, and at times faithless, yet always writing - I have given birth. Grandmothers Whisper is that newborn.
All that 'Iokepa Hanalei 'Imaikalani and I have lived in these years; much of what the Native Hawaiian people have lived in the last two hundred; and all of what the Hawaiian ancestors have shared is part of this story. It is cultural. It is spiritual. It is a deeply personal account of one Jewish woman's rite of passage into a stranger's aboriginal culture. It is, of course, a love story.
A powerful New York literary agent has seized the Grandmothers Whisper manuscript with enthusiasm. He is circulating it to publishers as I write. I ask that you - our Return Voyage friends and supporters - offer up a prayer, the power of your good wishes.
Please ask that Grandmothers Whisper finds its publishing home, and its way into your hands, imminently. The Grandmothers say: The time is now.