Ana, one of the women characters in my book, is a girl who lived a long time ago, beside a river. Her mother thought her a demon born from those waters and made her wear her hair up tight in a cap, as some of the strands shone blue in the sunlight.
And as I write in my book, “She felt the blame of color in her hair. But the fish swam beside her and kissed her legs, bearing witness to her pain. The fished stayed beside her until they understood.”
“That shame was something the river couldn’t clean. And so the next morning, the fish sang to her. They forgot their pact of silence and popped their heads up and called her back to the water…”
Ana was a short story I wrote twenty years ago while I was getting my Masters in Education. It was only a few pages long and yet her life began to percolate inside my head. I took a hiatus from my degree to write my book, my neatly folded dream, tucked away inside my secret drawer — you know that place you keep all the dreams you wish for but think could never happen? I tried writing different versions of Ana, all placed inside the drawer, until life happened: marriage, kids, going back and getting that degree…you know, the real stuff.
About three years ago, I had a health scare. As I sat, first inside the terror, and then inside the exquisite gratitude, I knew Ana could no longer sit inside an invisible drawer. I gave up all the “real stuff” I was doing and began to write. And as I began to write, I began to dream again, but differently this time — this time out loud, boldly, and with conviction. At first, I just wanted to get Ana out of my head and onto the page, then the tickle started with the wispy thought it will be published, then came the belief that Ang Lee will direct the movie version.
Of course, he doesn’t know it yet, and the book hasn’t been published yet, but anything is possible once you clean out your drawers.