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  • Writer's pictureAnna Byrne

Seven Year Summer turns Two.

Writing has been my companion since I was a girl. The few dozen journals I have from the last 30 years are filled with the emotional contents of my life. Some are less intriguing than others; my crush on Peter Rossi in elementary school, spats with friends, and the many exaggerated irritants of living with two sisters and three brothers (lots of fodder there, but admittedly, insignificant).

Other topics were weightier. At 12, the Gulf War began and I wrote about my fear that humanity’s greed would end the world. That same year, I penned a plan to end world poverty. It was a hefty idea that relied on the voluntary participation of every citizen of the world and, as you may have noticed, has not yet come to fruition.

My writing has always swung between the horrors and marvels of life. From the often-frenzied outpour between mind and soul, body and page, comes a great shake-out. Everything roiling and bubbling inside of me gets splashed onto a spotless page. This shake-out allows me to sift: What’s here? What’s worthy? What’s mine? After sifting comes a settling. Or maybe it’s the opposite; the settling of words in written form brings about a shift. Either way, after writing I feel more settled; what was jumbled becomes ordered and the way forward becomes clearer. A path is drawn in ink.

Twenty years after those writings about war and abundance, I was diagnosed with cancer. I asked a lot of my journals. Page after page, journal after journal, I wrote my agonies for seven years. Whole books filled with synonyms for sadness: hospital(s), puking, chemotherapy(ies), baby-less, goodbye, waste, relapse, relapse, relapse.

The pages also teemed with gratitude, a light that woke me and kept me awake. Sadness shared their lines with love and joy and even peace. Intimacies and agonies, tucked between heaps of humdrum moments. Writing created a resting spot, a breezy narrow where Intimacy and Agony poured tea together, mixing honey into bitter herbs.

Though I had yet to realize it, these ingredients would later rearrange themselves to become Seven Year Summer, a story about greedy cells and about riches found along the way. Paper, pen, and a moving hand—simple tools that have submitted themselves to my persistent need to wring meaning from life. Shake. Settle. Sift.

Seven Year Summer was released two years ago this month. It has sold copies every month since its release. It was named Finalist in the Whistler Independent Book Awards.

I’ve created a website and a Facebook page. I’ve been a guest on the End-of-Life University Podcast and a part of A Year of Reading Dangerously Book Club. Seven Year Summer is now an ebook and has a Discussion Guide.

Most meaningful to me is that I continue to receive notes from people who have been moved by the story. Recently, a reader contacted me and said, “It seems like everyone in my life has cancer right now. I needed to read your book when I did.”

To celebrate, I’m giving away two signed copies of Seven Year Summer. You will be automatically entered to win by either sharing this post, joining my mailing list or reviewing the book. Seven Year Summer will also be 25% off from July 21-31st.

My hope is that Seven Year Summer lights the way of gratitude and wakes you to the wild beauty of your life. Thank you for all of your support.

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