A writer since childhood, Diane Ingram Fromme's experience spans her Stanford University communication degree, training and facilitation work, articles and essays. A native New Yorker, Diane now writes from her cozy home in Colorado, where she lives with her husband, teen daughter, and a spunky canine. Diane is fortunate to see and keep in touch with her adult stepchildren. Join the private Facebook community to discuss real joys and challenges we have when supporting grieving children:
Stepparenting the Grieving Child
Writing: it's in our weave
I believe that writing has always been part of the fiber of my makeup. This weave started with the blessing of very early reading ability, and growing passion for reading. I carted around my own copy of Alice in Wonderland by age six, a coveted gift from my parents so that they didn't have to run me back to the library yet again to renew the book.
In our educational system, real creative writing doesn't begin until about third grade. Mrs. Arnold represented a chain of teachers who recognized my reading and writing abilities and believed in me. Somewhere I may still have a copy of my essay, "The Rose," its lined paper stamped by Mrs. Arnold with the honorable version of a large red "A."
My sixth-grade teacher, Miss Mill, pushed me to read and analyze Lord of the Flies for the class instead of the regular sixth-grade fare. With its graphic depictions of chaos and cruelty among its young male characters, what a terrifying yet addicting exposure that book was to the craft of writing. In contrast to this study of the consequences of anarchy, I also fell in love with The Phantom Tollbooth, a whimsical, fantasy adventure that provides a creative cloak for the importance of education and appreciation for everyday life.
In high school, English teacher Mr. Frisch spurred community among his readers and writers by organizing social events to discuss our work outside of the classroom. This symbolized my first exposure to the idea of a critique group, or what today’s high school students would call "peer feedback." Fast forward to the last decade: When I began writing Stepparenting the Grieving Child, Fort Collins author and writing coach Teresa Funke suggested I form a critique group with several other relatively new writers. Our group of four, now expanded to eight, just celebrated our 11th anniversary of giving each other positive yet productive feedback on all types of writing.
Our Broad Horizons writers group has been fundamental in providing thoughtful commentary along with the encouragement to carry on with an important work. While feedback can sometimes be paralyzing, I learned to express some boundaries to my fellow writers. For example, I would specify when I wanted them to identify a defensive tone, but I wouldn't always accept recommendations to change content. I also learned that I didn't need to incorporate every single comment into my manuscript in order to move forward. Your regional writers’ associations, such as Northern Colorado Writers in Fort Collins, CO, have the ability to connect you with other writers in critique groups and I highly recommend joining one.
Early in the process of writing the book, I submitted a personal essay for the anthology Pulse of the River (Johnson Books 2006). The essay illuminated how my visits to the Poudre River in northern Colorado helped me cope with the ebbs and flows of stepfamily life. “The Mirror in the River” was accepted with some help from author Laura Pritchett, and represented my first published work, literally getting my feet wet in the publishing industry. By the way, I would not have known about this opportunity were it not for networking with other writers and writing coaches in my area.
Publishing my first piece provided a magical momentum for my writing and publishing, and while plugging away at compiling Stepparenting the Grieving Child, I continued to submit and publish other personal essays and articles in local, regional, and international publications. I also continued to read, with a focus on memoir, spiritual nonfiction, and historical fiction and nonfiction. Notable adult reads include everything by Anne Lamott and Amy Tan, as well as Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer, the equally gripping Climb, by Anatoli Boukreev and G. Weston DeWalt, and The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown. The first two authors I mentioned would be my top picks for seeing speak in person, because I’ve followed their writings almost as closely as if their characters were my own family. They write about real people and their imperfect worlds and emotions, which has been a comfort to me in my stepfamily living. One of my wishes is about to come true: Anne Lamott is speaking in my hometown in April!
While I easily doubled the average amount of years to write my first book, clocking in at about twelve years, I have no regrets. The memoir portions of the book reflect personal experience with supporting grieving children, which is delicate subject matter that benefited from occasional time on the shelf. Shelf time equaled time for me to mature in my perspectives, and time for the fabric of the book to lay just right. My writing weave compels me forward to think about new interview-based material that will continue to support grieving children and stepfamilies.
Stepparenting the Grieving Child
In Stepparenting the Grieving Child, Diane Ingram Fromme shares the assumptions and presumptions, steps and missteps that occurred within her own stepfamily. Diane faced the key challenges any new stepparent to grieving children experiences, including helplessness to know how and when to offer comfort, awkwardness to identify the times and ways to memorialize the lost parent, and outsider blues--not only feeling uncomfortable in her own home but also in her own skin.
With personal examples, insights from other stepfamilies, and knowledge gained through experience and research, Diane provides information relevant to anyone who supports grieving children. Diane's straightforward approach will help you:
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Where to Buy Stepparenting the Grieving Child
I'm generally pulled in a million different directions and I wouldn't trade it for the world. Here's a glimpse of my life - hope you enjoy it! And if there's a big lapse between posts, well, that's the way life goes in Amy's world.