It’s a few years behind me now, when I had to put down the “pen” and take up the “sword.” Some days it’s a surreal blur that seems like it happened to someone else; other times, I feel a catch in my breath and have to remind myself that it’s long over.
In March 2013, we came out of our house to find a man stealing our car from the driveway right in front of us. My husband has a concealed-carry permit and carries his weapon almost every day. When the thief pointed at us what we both believed was a gun, my husband drew his weapon, and shot and killed him.
The next 13 months were a veritable shitstorm. The press camped outside our house for two weeks. We had to stay with friends out of the city limits for those two weeks. My husband was a complete wreck, especially after the prosecutors decided to charge him with manslaughter. My daughter had a two-and-a-half year old girl and a six-day-old son, and they all lived with us. She has her own issues, so we had both kids with us at our friends’.
The next months were a slow crawl over razor blades, finding attorneys and expert witnesses and begging money from people we didn’t know. Fending off the press every time anything new developed in the case and relocating to our friends’ to escape them.
I’d just released the audiobook of one of my novels and was partway through writing a new novel when the shooting happened. In the chaos of the first couple of months, I lost my writing ability. I’d sit and stare at my document on the screen for a while, willing the words to come or the characters to speak or the plot to throw out some new and exciting ideas. Finally would just close the manuscript and go to Facebook to play Candy Crush and Pepper Panic and anything else I could get my hands on that was mindless and free of demands.
My stories had gone silent, and I think it was because my subconscious realized there was only so much I could handle, and I had reached my limit: two small children for whom we were the main caregivers, a drug-addicted daughter who chose that precise moment to demand help and attention, a full-time job with very curious and opinionated colleagues, and a wreck of a spouse who was second-guessing himself every two seconds. So the subconscious flipped the damper on my talent, and then I had a new worry: that it was a permanent loss. I honestly don’t know what I’d do with myself if I didn’t write.
In April 2014, my husband was acquitted and the state was ordered to pay our legal fees after a finding by the jury of self-defense. Huge relief, but even so, it took another six months before my mind would fully believe that the majority of stress was behind me, before the damper was thrown wide and the words came back. I’ve finished three books since.