“Writing & The Journey of Self Discovery”
Guest Post by Renita Bryant
Since the launch of my first book, Yesterday Mourning, I’ve been asked one question repeatedly – ’What is it about?’ It’s a relevant question that deserves a heartfelt and persuasive answer. Initially, I’d recite the back cover blurb because I wanted to ensure a clear, descriptive, and eloquent response. This is my big chance to make the perfect first impression for my book right? However, as I talked to readers and pondered real life experiences which inspired the novel, I quickly started to see the proverbial, ‘big picture.’
Yesterday Mourning is about life and what happens to individuals and families when expectations are present, however unspoken and therefore, not met. All relationships revolve around expectations. Ironically, expectations primarily come with concrete titles. Parents and children, husbands and wives, and friends all have expectations of one another due in large part to how clearly the relationship is defined. A simple example is when you’re casually dating someone. There are no titles and therefore, no expectations. However, as soon as you become a couple, rules and expectations magically appear out of thin air.
In my life, I definitely put expectations on people, both those with and without titles. I expect people to treat me with respect, fairness, and consideration. I don’t expect them to be perfect, but I do expect their actions to match their words. In Yesterday Mourning, Yvette assumed her father knew what she wanted and needed from him. Because he didn’t respond as she expected, she felt abandoned and disappointed. The rift caused by such powerful emotions resulted in a near twenty-year separation of a daughter and her father. On the opposite side of that pain was a father yearning to have his daughter in his life. He too felt abandoned and discarded. Neither of these characters expressed what they wanted or needed from the other instead relying on pre-determined unknown expectations.
How do you tell someone something they should inherently know given their role? Are we destined to always be disappointed with others if our expectations are never discussed? What happens when you articulate your expectations and the person chooses not to meet them?
Although the novel is fiction, it was inspired by my reality including separation from my father and the emotional hurdles I faced while trying to simply keep some semblance of self. I set out to write a story about a young woman mourning the loss of her mother but ended up on a journey of self-discovery and forgiveness. I learned through the words on Yesterday Mourning’s pages that expectations should always be expressed and addressed. People should be given a chance to rise to your expectations, which only happens if they’ve been communicated. When we don’t express ourselves but expectations remain, we set others and ourselves up for failure. I’ve also learned that people don’t always grant you the outcome you desire. It doesn’t make them malicious, it just gives you an opportunity to decide what new role they can play in your life, if they play a role at all. Or it helps reset expectations to be more agreeable for everyone involved.
I’ve learned many things as a daughter, writer and friend. Understanding the consequences of unspoken expectations has by all accounts been one of the most important.
Yesterday Mourning by Renita Bryant
Yvette is a forty-one year old woman struggling to cope with losing both parents during her twenties—one to terminal disease and the other to life’s complications. Over the years, she learned to repress the pain of watching her mother die and the resentment of having her father casually walk out of her life. Now as she packs her bags to return to her Georgia hometown and the house where final goodbyes were never spoken, a growing sense of uneasiness intensifies.
Vera is the kind-hearted stepsister Yvette never imagined nor wanted. She was an innocent teenager in search of answers when Yvette’s father, the Pastor, entered her life. Although broken from the loss of his beloved wife and daughters, he gave Vera the love and affection she so desperately needed. However, a childhood secret threatens to compromise everything Vera holds dear.
When the Pastor’s health takes a turn for the worse, both daughters must decide if they have the strength and courage to no longer be confined to burdens of the past. Will Yvette overcome feelings of abandonment and forgive her father before it’s too late? Does Vera’s childhood secret hold the key to mending this family’s broken relationship?
Yesterday Mourning is a heartfelt and poignant novella about two women learning invaluable lessons of forgiveness, love, loss and ultimately—peace. It is an impressive debut from an author with an authentic voice and a love for storytelling.