Although I published Daughters of Seferina in 2013, the idea for the book came to me twenty years earlier. In 1993, I was deep into my career as a clinical social worker. I was working as a home-based therapist, providing services to children and families in the foster care system. This involved driving long distances across a number of counties, and I spent almost as much time on the road as I did in the homes of my clients.
At that time of my life, I was giving little thought to writing. My mental energy was directed elsewhere. But one day while I was driving home from an appointment with a family, an idea for a novel involving foster care and adoption came into my mind. It did not come gently. The story slammed into my brain with such force that it threw me off kilter, and I immediately got lost on the familiar drive home.
The next few days, the story continued to rush into my head, almost as if it was being poured into my brain by someone or something outside of me. The process was both exciting and uncomfortable. Actually, it was downright painful. It was as if I was living in some weird alternate reality, and couldn’t concentrate on ordinary daily activities. I recall the supreme effort it took to accomplish the simple task of setting the table for dinner while the story buzzed in my head.
Thankfully, the mental activity slowed down after a few days, and continuing ideas came to me at a pace where I could more easily handle them. While I found the experience to be one of the weirdest things that had ever happened to me, this process has visited me many times since then. Ideas slam into my head at such a rate and intensity that I find myself furiously scribbling on whatever scrap of paper I can get my hands on. Then the ideas taper off, coming in at a manageable rate.
I’ve dubbed this process “head-writing.” My husband often tells me I have a funny look on my face. He’ll ask, “What’s wrong?” More often than not, my response to him is, “Nothing. I’m just head-writing.”