Happy pub day! My e-book THE EDGE OF NORMAL is now available from Amazon. Writing this was a writing experience unlike any other I’ve had to date. When my daughter was diagnosed with a rare genetic condition I furiously took notes and wrote down what I was feeling every minute of every day. It was the only way I knew how to process what was going on around me, and also I needed to write about it because I was sick of talking about it. I didn’t think I’d ever do anything with all of that writing, I just needed to get it out.
Then, this fall I pitched Amazon on a Kindle Single about my experience battling the NYC Department of Ed to get accommodations for my daughter. That essay was eight thousand words, so I didn’t think it had much hope of finding a publisher. An editor contacted me after reading that piece (which is forthcoming this summer from The Big Roundtable) and said that while that topic wasn’t quite right for them, they’d be interested in a broader essay on the topic of raising a visually impaired child.
So at that point I went back to find all the notes I’d taken on the subject, only to discover that I’d accidentally overwritten the file. The notes were gone. Funny thing, though, was that because I’d already written about all of those experiences, my thoughts on them were embedded into my brain. And because I was now writing form the vantage point of someone six years down the road, I had a perspective on the events that went deeper than why is this happening to me?
I knew from the start that I didn’t want to write an exposé on my daughter. If I was going to write on the topic I wanted it to be about me – my journey and my story. So I began from there.
But writing something without any word limits is tricky. Kindle Singles are longer than an article but shorter than a book. That put the word range between 8000 and 80,000. That’s a big word range. But as I got into it, I found that I relished the challenge of writing do a new and different length. I found that I did in fact have a story to tell that was in between those two word lengths. It was scary at first to just have this wide open structural word playground – there are no norms in storytelling when it comes to e-books – but by the end I felt I’d done the new medium justice. I hope you feel that way too.
Here’s the description of the book from Amazon:
What is normal? Everything in Hana Schank’s life is going according to plan — career, marriage and a growing family. But when her second child is born with albinism, a rare genetic condition whose most striking characteristics are white blonde hair, pale skin and impaired vision, she discovers that the very definition of normal is up for grabs. A moving memoir with flashes of humor, this essay tells one mother’s story of navigating a world filled with a vast spectrum of ability and disability, filled with both heartbreak and joy. And how ultimately she and her daughter learn to balance together on the edge of normal.