I love this photo for many reasons- kids are eating leftover snowman noses. Greta can’t see out of one eye because her hat is pulled down so far. We just happen to have a spare pair of wheels so the Daddy snowman can be authentic. No one is really concerned about how the rest of us will walk about town, but at least Daddy has his wheels. Carver’s hat is from the time period he was obsessed with sharks, before the bald eagles and other birds of prey.
These are our kids when they were really little, like 1.5 and 3 maybe. Some of the dark years, I often joke because motherhood was just so much harder than I could have prepared myself for, despite being older, ready, and fully responsible. The baby and toddlerhood years were also more difficult than Geoff could have imagined, for a guy who handles most challenges gracefully.
This being said, how would I possibly have time to write a novel in a year? I began writing when spring hit following this photo, and in many way, writing gave me something that was just for me again. Sure, I was writing a book I hoped others would read, but in those magical hours of composing, it was just me in my space, generally at the kitchen table. I never tried to write when my kids were awake or at home during the day on weekends. We had an awesome childcare center and loads of good babysitters, amazing friends and family members to watch the little Krills when I needed writing time. In those hours, I stopped being Mommy or Mrs. Krill, and I just got to be Heather, the writer. I was able to keep these identities fairly separate for a long time, until the story truly started to take shape. Then True North spilled into family life and my classroom. And then it was published. And then the readers happened. And now the questions come. I’m in the best kind of identity crisis– I can be at the grocery store with two crying children, and someone will stop me to ask a question about my book. Parents send their copies of my book in with their students for me to sign. It’s awesome. The best kind of overlapping worlds because now I’m Mommy Heather Ehrman Krill, the teacher and writer. Still also a wife, daughter, sister, auntie, friend, skier, snowboarder, avid reader, etc. Then the identify crisis comes for my readers as they seek to identify the source of every story within True North.
“So,” my brother asks over Christmas while reading True North, “the kitchen table you talk about in your book, it’s the table from Mom and Dad’s house, right?”
“That girl in the blue tarp incident– is that you, Mrs. Krill?” asks a current student the week before vacation.
A former student writes to me in a text while reading, “How did you know this was exactly how I felt?”
A friend from my hometown, Merrimack, NH, asks, “Was there really a drunk driving death by King Kone when we were young? I don’t know why I can’t remember that happening.”
Tomorrow is my first book discussion for True North. I should clarify– there has been a lot of discussion informally with students, their parents, our friends, family members, but tomorrow will be the first time, I talk formally about the writing process, the ideas for the books, that really fun line between fiction and nonfiction.
And one thing I’ve learned about this process of publishing a book is that I like the writing part more than any other part. I relish evenings like tonight when I am sitting at my kitchen table (more like the one described in the book) because I don’t have a desk, and it’s a disaster. Geoff is on the road somewhere in Vermont doing what he does best, and I’m home with the kiddos. I have a map of Loon Mountain with all of the blue squares circled in magic marker because that was Carver’s ski school homework. I am surrounded by crayons, paper, markers, oh, a giant stormtrooper head, a cardboard model of an x-wing fighter, a menagerie of painted and bedazzled animals, some maracas from Caracas (this rhymes and that makes me smile), a random chocolate cake mix, a weird alien growing in water, a homemade holiday candle, and some Windex all purpose cleaner I should be using to wash the table; there is laundry unwashed and unfolded and un-put away on my bed; yet, I would rather sit here and write.
There are those who have read True North and believe that it’s a fictional collection of completely non-fiction events. Did I know a boy in high school who committed suicide? Yes. Did it happen exactly the way I describe it in the book. No. This should not have surprised me as an English teacher as we try everyday to help students to think critically, to question, to wonder, to support opinion with evidence, to imagine the author’s purpose even if we never have the opportunity to ask her for real.
And so now people get to ask the author for real. I’m excited. I can’t wait. I hope more of you buy my book. Help me to market my book to your friends, because, well, I’m just not very good at that. Share my blog. Share my posts. Like my FB author page: Heather Krill. Tell them about this awesome FICTION book you just read in no time flat. Let me know if your book club reads True North, and I’ll try to make it there for the discussion! Thank you, Lincoln Library, and everyone who comes on Thursday at 6:30 so that I don’t feel like that young girl living in Portsmouth a hundred years ago who showed up for a date with a strikingly good looking photographer only to learn from his roommate that he moved to Seattle and forgot to tell her!