In the wake of the past couple of years, it’s difficult to know what to write here. When the pandemic lock-down first took place, I was a week post-launch of ELEPHANT SPEAK: A Devoted Keeper’s Life Among the Herd (Ooligan Press, March 2020). What an amazing and wonderful time those early days of March were – traveling to Oregon, meeting my editorial and production team, and promoting the story of Roger Henneous, a pioneer in the field of elephant management, who for thirty years cared for the largest breeding herd of elephants in North America and inspired generations of animal care professionals.
The following months were to contain a lot of events – readings, signings, etc – and of course it all evaporated in one go courtesy of COVID. I was deeply disappointed, of course, though in retrospect my feelings were minor compared to the horror and loss to come. Still, ELEPHANT SPEAK has proven to be the resilient little book that could. Two years after initial publication people remain interested in Roger’s story, reading it, discussing it in book groups, participating in online events, and reaching out to me with their thoughts. I thank you all.
When lock-down first occurred, I tried to see the silver lining – all that time to write! It wasn’t until months went by (months that included a move I wasn’t thrilled about, the death of my beloved dog, Holly, the loss of too many friends and family…even my pal Roger, who’d so gallantly shared his story with me) that I realized the words which had sustained me through some of the most wretched moments of my life were gone. My two closest writing friends encouraged me even when I subjected them to some of the world’s worst poetry (all I could seem to create), but anything longer was beyond my reach. There were a lot of sleepless nights, and a lot of tears, as I contemplated the possibility of a life without writing.
Now…I dunno. I’m beginning to feel the stirring of a desire for words. Not the panic I felt earlier, the clutching at something lost, but a longing to play with words again, to write that first sentence and see where it takes me, not striving to write any particular thing, just letting the words come without pressure, without thought of where I might sell them or who my audience will be. For now, I write to an audience of one, hoping to please myself in some small way.