“I am an author.”
I hear myself utter the words and still cannot fathom this is a reality. In my sixties to be given a new career, an opportunity to express on paper what sometimes I cannot articulate or communicate because of an introvert character, is an incredible gift.
When I went to a support group after I lost my father in 2011, the leader of the group encouraged me to share my story and write an article for The Centering Corporation. For decades I kept emotions and feelings dormant. The death of my father forced me to grieve for my beloved sisters Margie and Jane, feelings I suppressed now bubbled to the surface. This mushroomed to being a contributor for The Open To Hope Foundation.
Am I talented at the craft of writing? The answer is no. As a friend who is an esteemed author uses the term, pedestrian. I pursued writing classes and workshops. Urged by many to write a book, I took the plunge in 2018, left employment and devoted time to write. I suffered a concussion and through podcasts located a memoir coach. With the coach, and many editors, as they say a village, many drafts, I secured a wonderful hybrid publisher, WriteLife Publishing, and the rest they say is history.
Countless hours spent reliving the deaths of my sisters, redrafting the arc of the memoir, learning to show not tell, being able to accept criticism to grow, and not take rejection personally and produced Celebration of Sisters: It Is Never Too Late To Grieve which I hope with help others in their grief.
I think of writing as a second passion, my first being skating. When I tackle a new element in skating, it requires patience, practice, and time, not unlike writing. If I waver in my confidence, a wise coach asked, “Why do you skate?” The answer, “For the joy.” The same analogy to writing. To expand, I write to share a story to give back and help others.
I am writing a second book. Originally a memoir, I did not have the emotional capacity to write about a sister with a mental illness so out of a suggestion of a writer friend. I am writing fiction. The transition from memoir to fiction is challenging, and taking yourself out of the equation, specifically out of the character. We write what we know which is the motto for memoir, and somewhat true in fiction, however, to write an interesting fiction story, I had to learn the character is not me, although may have pieces of me.
The process is a learning curve, have shed some tears, and shifted the story from four siblings down to three. I know in my heart it is an important story that must be told. Like my memoir, I have no expectations, but feel it is an important story to be told.
I have found writing is now part of my life, much like skating. If I do not write, I feel like part of me is missing. To write, like skating, is to have discipline, to practice, and do regularly. There are obstacles and life that can interfere, and I am trying to focus on carving out time every day to write to complete the manuscript. I know it will take a village to complete and grateful for all the support and kindness to individuals who are joining me on the journey.
Judy Lipson, is the Founder of Celebration of Sisters, an ice skating fundraiser established in 2011 to commemorate the memories of her beloved sisters to benefit Massachusetts General Hospital. Judy has published articles for The Open to Hope Foundation and The Centering Organization. Massachusetts General Hospital and SKATING Magazine featured numerous pieces on Judy’s philanthropic work. Judy appeared as a guest on The Open To Hope and The Morning Glory Podcasts. Her passion for figure skating secured the recipient of U.S. Figure Skating Association 2020 Get Up Award. Judy’s memoir, Celebration of Sisters: It Is Never Too Late To Grieve, released December 2021 by WriteLife Publishing.