Yesterday I had the privilege of reviewing Gillian Marchenko’s incredible memoir Sunshine Down. Today she has graciously provided us with a look into her life behind the pages, and how she finds time to write in the midst of it. Gillian – we’re so happy to have you here today!
Gillian, why did you decided to write this story?
E.M. Forster said, “How can I know what I think till I see what I say?” I am a life-long journal keeper, but after the birth of my third daughter and her diagnosis of Down syndrome, writing became necessity. The first year of her life I wrestled a hallowing grief over the child I expected and the mother I was to become on the page.
My journaling delved deeper as my daughter grew. Images, situations, and details bobbed up to the surface of my conscious. A fear of brokenness; broken people, broken things, and ultimately, my own broken heart, had been tucked inside me since childhood. I wrote, and a thought nagged. Perhaps these words were meant to be read by others?
A memoir emerged.
You are a pastor’s wife. Was it difficult to share the hard parts?
While I was writing, and throughout the process, no. But I have to be honest, once the book published, and my struggles and sins were out there for all to see, yes. In the beginning though, when my husband Sergei and I agreed I would mold my writing into a book, we also agreed I absolutely had to share the hard parts. Without hard parts, the good parts aren’t as good. Without darkness, the light is not as bright. Grace lives in the hard parts.
What’s it like being an author, and a mother of four?
Once I understood I was no longer writing journal entries (with a nod of approval from my husband Sergei and our children), time was carved out of the family schedule to write. I am fortunate to have a supportive spouse with a flexible work schedule.
I aim to write three days a week. I start at eight after the kids go to school and end at three when the children return. On writing days, I don’t do other things. No laundry, no errands. I am a mom, though. School assemblies and doctor appointments never fail to show up on scheduled writing days. With young children, I am thankful for what I get.
What are you working on now? Will there be another book about your adoption?
Right now, I am working on two projects. My agent is waiting on a book proposal and sample chapters about my personal struggle with depression as a pastor’s wife and a missionary. With this project, I hope to convey that just because people of faith struggle, it doesn’t mean they are not people of faith.
I also have about sixty pages of Evangeline’s (our adopted daughter with Down syndrome) story written. I do believe those who loved Polly’s story will one day (God willing) get to read Evangeline’s story as well.
Gillian Marchenko is an author and national speaker who lives in Chicago with her husband Sergei and four daughters. Her book,Sun Shine Down, a memoir, published with T. S. Poetry Press in the fall of 2013.
She writes and speaks about parenting kids with Down syndrome, faith, depression, imperfection, and adoption. Her work has appeared in numerous publications, including Chicago Parent, Thriving Family, Gifted for Leadership, Literary Mama, Today’s Christian Woman, MomSense Magazine, Charlottesville Family, EFCA Today, and the Tri-City Record.
Gillian says the world is full of people who seem to have it all together. She speaks for the rest of us. You can follow Gillian and her family at www.gillianmarchenko.com.