Rising From The Ashes: Finding the Way Back From Loss


Yes, I am still alive, though by the dust gathering on this blog, you wouldn’t know it. In truth, I’ve been lost, traveling the dark places, searching for a way out of the valleys of grief and loss, cutting my way through the dense forest of self-doubt, thirsting across the acrid hot desert of anger, and finally, weary of the journey, curling my broken spirit up beneath the heavy, crushing boulder of failure.

And there I’ve stayed, desperately trying to untangle the threads of my unraveling identity. To understand what it means to be a daughter without my mother, an author without a publisher, a writer without words?

Who was I? Who am I? Who will I be?

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve attempted to write over the last three years, since mom died, since health problems, since my publisher imploded, since my hard-fought paper dreams, went up in hot, white, flames. I’ve failed, and although the fire of my loss has long burned out, I still lay, unmoving, amid a pile of ashes. Afraid, abject, ashamed. And I wonder… Should I quit? Give up and live the uncreative life? Would I be happier, more content? It’s true, I have failed before, but never has it felt quite so personal, shameful, dirty.

As writers, we are asked to open our veins and bleed on the page, to pour our very being into our words in order to bring life to our characters. A ritual, a blood sacrifice, so that they can live and breathe and become real, true, alive. We spend years getting to know them, telling their stories, grieving with them, loving with them, journeying through hell and back together. And once we have breathed life and depth and truth into them, we are then commanded to let them go into the world and to not look back, but to forget and move forward. To pretend they were not really a part of us at all, only words, only stories, only a moment. And if those words, those stories, those moments die a thousand tiny little deaths out in the cruel world, we are to harden our hearts, shed no tears. There will be more stories, more words, more little deaths. As if it is that easy to separate the creation from the creator. No easier, I’ve found, than it is it to separate the child from her mother, so tightly wound together are their fates.

Who was I? Who am I? Who will I be?

I am not my mother, and yet I am. I am not my books, and yet I am. I am not my grief, my loss, my failure, and yet I am. These things do not define me, and yet they do. They are but single threads simultaneously unraveling and entwining in the making of a whole life, my life. Despite how I feel, or what has happened, I am still a daughter, a writer, an author. No matter how much I may want to, I cannot quit, to turn my back on the gifts bestowed upon me, on my purpose. I must persist. I must shed the heavy, jaded armor the industry has taught me to wear and once again bask, naked and unafraid, in the joy of storytelling.

This is the only way forward. This is the only way out of darkness. This is the only way back to myself. To who I was, who I am, and who I will be.

On a side note: I know some of you are waiting for the third and final book in The Pretty Dark series and I am sorry that I have not been able to deliver. For now, the first two books are out of print. You can read more about what happened here.


I’ve been silent about the experience because I wasn’t’ sure what to say or how to say it. After a lot of heartache, the rights to my Pretty Dark series have finally been reverted to me. I know that Quinn and Aaron deserve to have their stories finished, but, for now, I cannot face that world, that story. Too much grief is tied up in their pages. That doesn’t mean I’ll never write the end of the series, I will. In the meantime, I want to  thank each and every one of you who have read the books, who have left reviews, hosted me on blog tours, supported me with words of encouragement, and who have taken Quinn and Aaron into your hearts. Know that I will do them justice, but, for now, I must look forward before I can look back. That means writing new worlds and characters that I hope you will love as much, if not more, than my first.


    • *big hugs* Thank you for reading and commenting. Here’s to moving forward, to embracing creativity over industry, and to new, beautiful stories. Onward and upward, my friend.

  1. Your phoenix will spread wings with you upon its back and use the heat and ashes of your grief and uncertainty to soar into the light of your purpose.
    You are never alone, though you may have no one seated next to you.
    Love & Light

    • Shannon, thank you so much. I fondly remember all of our deep and wonderful conversations during our long drives together. You and your family have always been in my heart and I know you miss your mother every day as well. As you say, we are not alone, they are always with us even if we can’t see them. Love you.

  2. I am so sorry about all of this, Heather. You are a wonderful person, and it’s awful to hear such bad things happen to someone so good. You are an amazing writer and, overall, human being, and I know I’ll have great stories of yours to read in the future. I can’t wait to read them all, my friend!

    • Cuyler,

      Thank you so much for your kind words. You’ve been such a great support from the beginning and you have no idea how much I’ve appreciated that. I miss meeting with you guys to write and hope that you’re still pursing your stories as well. Lots of love to you, friend.

  3. Hugs, Heather, for all of it.

    I’m glad you have your rights back again. When you come out the other side of your grief, I hope you’ll come to associate joy with publication again. (It’s awfully fun being an indie writer, IMHO.)

    Hoping everything begins to make sense for you soon. xo

    • Hi Jan,
      Thank you for the support. I have so much love and respect for all the indie authors out there. I think you are brave and amazing. Perhaps I’ll dip my toe into the indie waters in the future, it does seem like a lot of fun!

  4. Heather – you are an amazing human being, and I’m so lucky to call you friend. Sometimes we need to fall apart and put ourselves back together, and the process takes as much time as we need. I love this little poem I found on the Internet, and I have it printed and posted to remind me:

    “she fell
    she crashed
    she broke
    she cried
    she crawled
    she hurt
    she surrendered
    and then…
    she rose again.”

    Sending you much love and good energy sweet friend. <3

    • I love that, Stephanie! Thank you! I would love to make a piece of art with that for the wall of my office. I hope you’re doing well, friend. <3

  5. Well said, Heather, and very relatable from another with an unfinished series, a dusty blog and barely there spark of desire to publish, let alone write. Best wishes for a successful road to new heights

    • Iris, thank you so much for your comment and your support. I hope you find your way back to the joy of writing. I know how hard it is, but know that you are not alone.

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