This is a question many people have asked me, and when I hear it I’m tempted to jump on the defensive. I asked her, I want to reassure them. I didn’t just decide to seek publication for a book about a vulnerable time in my sister’s life without getting her permission!
I’ve come to realise however, that no one’s accusing me of being insensitive or brash. In fact, my defensiveness says much more about me than it does about the questioner! ‘What does your sister think?’ is an honest, genuine question. It’s one I’d probably ask myself, if our places were switched.
So what is the relationship between this memoir, my sister and myself? What has the journey been like?
Well, if I’m honest, I think I get defensive because it has been hard.
- It’s hard to write something about people you love, and write it clearly and honestly and lovingly .
- It’s hard be the author, and yet open your work out several times for general consultation to people you love so dearly.
- It’s hard to submit to their suggestions, their requirements, their constructive criticism.
- It’s hard to maintain a balance in all of this. This is my work, but it’s their life as well, and the boundaries are flexible and nuanced and confusing.
It’s been a battle I’ve fought willingly, because I believe in fighting it; I believe in holding love and hope in open hands; I believe in clear communication and letting people in. It’s not always been easy, and I’m sure there are times I’ve failed…but it’s been so worth it.
I have learnt so much, been blessed so much, by the journey we’ve been on as a family – from my sister’s tumour six years ago to the present day. We’ve grown closer together, and now, as my memoir is about to be launched out into the world next week, we are on the same page, looking forward with excitement and joy and some nervousness – and this solidarity means the world to me.
EXCERPT from an interview included in Two Sisters (recorded May 2021)
EMILY: Now, I was actually just talking to someone today about how brave I think it is of you to allow me to write this book. And when I approached you with the idea after a lot of prayer, I honestly had no idea what you’d say. I guess that was something I had to surrender to God before I wrote it. I said, God, I’m going to write this, and I’m not sure if you’re going to use it in this way. So, what made you agree to let me publish our (your) story?
JASMINE: Well, to be honest it is a bit terrifying having my personal story out in the big wide world where everyone in my life can read it! But I personally love reading books like this, as you know, ‘sick lit’ is my favourite genre—
JASMINE: —I just love reading stories about sick people! Which sounds really bad, but I love it. [laughs]
EMILY: Trust me, I know. [drily]
JASMINE: And if my story can make someone think a little bit deeper about their life, or be a little more grateful to God for what they have, or trust him just an inch more, it will be so worth it.