This week, I’m bringing back Write Now! Wednesdays, an almost weekly feature highlighting writing craft and exercises. Last week, poet Erik Fuhrer wrote about Writing Poetry During the Pandemic. If you have an idea for a post, send it my way. I’d love to host you.
Today I’m delighted to welcome Karen Voss to the blog. She’s from Milwaukee and the author of That’s All I Got! Thrival: A Widow’s Journey After Suicide.
Writing About Grief
An Interview with Karen Voss
By Rochelle Melander
Can you tell our readers a bit about your book and who it is written for?
That’s All I Got! Thirval: A Widow’s Journey After Suicide recalls the journey of healing and thriving for the first few years after the loss of my husband, Russ, to the completion of suicide as a result of mental illness. It reveals all of the emotions and the stages of grief that I endured. I wrote the book for myself, for thrivers, for survivors of suicide loss, for those needing inspiration and healing after losing a loved one. The first part of the title emerged from the abrupt ending of a Toastmaster’s speech that Russ had practiced in front of his friends. The second part took time to come up with. I had lots of ideas and my publisher combined a couple of them, and there you have it!
What moved you to write a book about your experience?
Since Russ passed away, I wanted to help save lives and I developed the motto “If I can save one life then I know I am doing my job.” I discovered my passion for writing while going through a program to help me work through some of my grief. I decided I wanted to share my story and by doing so inspire and aid others along the way.
Can you talk about your writing journey: what were the hard parts and how did you move past that to finish the book?
I started writing the book in 2012, a few years after I lost Russ. My second cousin’s wife, Manya Kaczkowski, another area writer and published author, encouraged and mentored me in my writing prior to committing to the book. I learned from her as I progressed in my writing and as I wrote the book. Sadly, she passed away from cancer before she had a chance to read it. I gifted her husband, my second cousin, a signed copy of the book as well as a printed copy of a tribute that I wrote about my writing journey with her. Her death was tough so naturally I wrote about her in my Inspiring thru Thought blog including how she red-marked my work and hoped I would still talk to her. The hardest parts involved reliving Russ’s death and working through the still existing grief. I went through every emotion writing That’s All I Got! At times, feeling those emotions forced me to pause, regroup, maybe take a break, and start again when I was ready.
How did you find your publisher?
I told my friend Drew that I wanted to share my journey in a book. He suggested I meet Kira Henschel of HenschelHaus Publishing if I wanted to pursue it. Kira and I met at the HenschelHaus table during the 2011 Dare to be Aware Fair where we talked for a few minutes, and I shared my dream of writing a book. Every time I saw her after that, she asked how my book was coming along. My answer seemed to revolve around I haven’t started. Eventually, I would sit down with her in a three hour workshop to map out “That’s All I Got!” She offered to publish my book, and I graciously and excitably accepted.
What are you reading now?
I am currently reading three books: You Are a Badass at Making Money by Jen Sincero, Restless Hearts by Marta Perry, and Fire Up Your Writing Brain by Susan Reynolds. I don’t normally read three books at one time, but since they’re different genres I figure why not.
Are you working on a new book?
Not at this time, but I have a dream of writing a second book. My brain hasn’t provided me the content yet. In the meantime, I am open to proofreading and editing other writers and authors books as a freelancer.