A life of Overcoming
Twenty-year-old Kayla Meyers of West Linn uses writing to overcome obstacles and share hope in her new book, “The Butterfly Paperweight”
Although the kitchen is empty, 20-year-old Kayla Meyers is not alone. Meyers’ mind is the only thing cluttered in the white-walled, immaculate room. She types on a computer in the corner, overlooking her neighborhood in West Linn.
After just releasing her first book titled “The Butterfly Paperweight: A Collection of Poems and Short Stories,” Meyers wastes no time delving into new stories and meeting new characters.
“They just sort of come to me,” she said of the characters she writes about. “I discover things (about my characters) through conversation. Their stories develop for me the same way they do for the reader.”
Meyers’ new book is a collaboration of stories, poems and characters.
“When I begin a story I don’t always know where they’re going to end up,” she said. “It’s very much a journey for me as well.”
“Journey” is a fitting word to describe Meyers’ life. Her laughs fill any room and her enthusiasm to share snippets from her book is inspiring. But Meyers couldn’t write her way out of some of her real life hardships growing up.
“In my five-year-old brain I thought everyone visited the hospital frequently and had countless doctors,” Meyers wrote in the first chapter. In the book she described herself as two people, “plain old Kayla and Kayla with Spina Bifida,” a developmental birth defect resulting in an incompletely formed spinal cord.
Meyers has had 37 surgeries for her condition, which causes the spinal cord to stick out through the opening in the vertebra. Meyers said her condition is on-going, affecting her kidneys and bladder.
“I’ve also had my spinal cord untethered several times,” she said.
From a young age, Meyers enjoyed reading so when a friend suggested that a 7-year-old Meyers start writing, it was “a revelation,” for her.
“And it’s always stuck with me,” she said. “On the Internet I discovered several different writing communities where you can post your work.”
WritingRoom.com – a place for aspiring writers to share and encourage one another – searches all writings posted each month and staff chooses a Discovered Author. Meyers joined the Web site in April.
“Kayla was our first Discovered Author,” said Lindsay Preston, who started the site. “I found her writings to be full of hope and understanding of the world. She writes with a wisdom far beyond her young years and more than just her writing, she herself is an inspirational story.”
Preston began talking with Meyers and found out that she’s always dreamed of becoming a published writer. And by September she was, after working with Preston to edit, design the cover, write press releases and find distribution.
“My mom and I stood in the kitchen and screamed,” Meyers said of receiving finished copies of the book in the mail. “I said, ‘it’s a real book!’”
Preston and Meyers worked together to shape the book, dividing it into chapters with a poem between each chapter. Preston said the book is for late teens and young adults.
“Most of her stories focus around issues that teens deal with: Drugs, alcohol, love and loss,” Preston said.
Meyers channels much of her adversities toward writing and many of the characters she creates must also overcome obstacles.
“I find beauty in people and experiences that are real and honest,” Meyers said. “There’s transformation and they all have to come to a place of understanding in peace in their life. I love that aspect and I love to tell those kinds of stories.”
One chapter tells of a husband and wife whose milestones revolve around their bed comforter. This day, the wife cries on the bed, watching her husband button his shirt for deployment to Iraq. Another chapter describes Cleo, a pretty young woman who wakes up in a psychiatric ward.
Meyers said her characters are complete people, saying, “Where they are today is a result of where they’ve been.”
Just like Meyers.
Citing author Stephen King as her hero, Meyers is currently earning her General Educational Development certification and will soon attend Clackamas Community College to study writing. And she’s writing a novel.
Meyers believes that her life has balance – for every positive there will be a negative, and with every negative soon will come a positive.
“That’s my philosophy in a nutshell. For every negative experience I can find positives – family, writing a book,” she said. “I feel like I’ve come to a point where I (can) make sense of a lot of things that have happened (in my life). I see purpose in those things, and with the book coming out recently, it’s almost like it’s paid off.”
The Butterfly Paperweight: A Collection of Poems and Short Stories in paperback is for sale at Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com and the PublishingRoom.com Web site for $14.99.