reading the past

Since I’ve decided to write my mother’s novel, ahem, I’m rereading her letters. Letters she saved from other people and letters she sent to me. The novel she started is, after all, veiled autobiography. My mother once wrote me,

A la M [the ex-boyfriend], I just decided to go ahead and write a novel, as I told you, and to hell with whether it’s a good book. The grammar and spelling will be correct, and I know how to write a clear statement. It will make me feel better, does make me feel better about a lot of things. It’s amazing how you have to fictionalize things that happened in real life because they don’t work on paper. So, if you ever get to read this tome, don’t take it for truth. There will be germs of truth there, of course. You’re not in this one, except for some personality traits or body language for my heroine.

I hope I know what I’m doing.

6 thoughts on “reading the past

  1. If you know what you’re doing, you’re in trouble and so is the novel. What you stand to discover is and ought to be mind boggling, or why bother? And of course if it boggles your mind, can we be far behind?

  2. Sounds like she’d be good with what you’re planning. She was going to fictionalize a lot of things anyway, so I say go for it and enjoy that bond you’ll feel with her. πŸ™‚

  3. The good news is that you’ve got magic lined up on your side. Not (alas, I guess) the cheap and easy kind that would let you wave a wand and produce a perfect book instantly, overnight. Knowing you even as little as I do, I think a book like that would leave you feeling (rightly) suspicious: How can that possibly be what Mom would have wanted?

    No, I mean the harder kind of magic, the kind that only you could bring to bear on the task (because it’s taken you [Answer to Everything] years to get to this point): the original author’s in your genes and certainly in your head and the beating of your heart; you know her probably as well as it’s possible for anyone to know her; you love her and want to do her justice; you’ve got the draft or outline or notes she left — someone else might have all those raw materials, true. But anyone who thinks the proper raw materials and tools lined up on the table are what makes magic happen have never seen a magician at work.

    As is sometimes the case, you have (I believe) much less to worry about than you think you do, and you’ll need even some of the things seemingly standing in your way to pull off the magic properly. Including the familiar backpack full o’ neuroses. πŸ™‚

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