I would have written more posts of an arty nature if I hadn’t been so busy keeping to a different kind of writing deadline. For those new to my posts, I began a story about my father a couple of years back and I was never diligent in keeping to the schedules I set myself. Well, finally I decided that enough was enough (see my post, Deadlines, Oct 25th). Yes, it’s true, an amazing thing, for I have been keeping to that self-set deadline, of finishing the draft of a novel by mid-January. I have found the going sluggish at times, not with the writing itself, but with the research and detail I need to keep this story authentic.
My choice to write this story as fiction proved harder than I had imagined. But why choose to write in this form, I hear some of you asking? It was because my father was something of a character – an entrepreneur, self-taught songwriter, artist, banjo mandolin player – and the list goes on. Another reason, and maybe the main one, was to remove myself a little from a story in which I was also a major participant. I was close to my Dad, and his early death impacted on me severely. My choice to write about my whole family as if they were another, has been quite freeing. For I can ‘fiddle with the facts’, which I would not necessarily have remembered correctly, or even known anything about.
In the main, I have used memory to base the story, with some broad artistic interpretation of the facts. There were four children in the family, but only one older sibling who can answer the many questions I now throw at him. Returning to one’s youth is sometimes funny, sometimes difficult, and occasionally weird. Take the photo above, showing my brother Bob, and my sister and I, 2nd and 3rd from the right – the very epitome of sixties’ fashion. But mostly, pulling the pieces together from a long ago past is rather marvellous as there I am in the story with my siblings, having a rare beach holiday, playing games, singing silly songs, travelling in Dad’s Library truck. And so much more.
There is no doubt that my father was somewhat different; artistic, clever, and a touch crazy. My only wish, is that when my editor reads the first draft of this story she’ll like my characters and my prose. But she is not the only one I hope enjoys this work, for my eldest daughter was the one who suggested I write about my father, a grandfather that she, her siblings, and cousins never had the chance to meet. For now, I’ll keep writing until it is done, when I shall have met my deadline. Watch this space.
Your post reminds me of Janet Malcolm’s reflections on photographs, memory and family.
Janet MalcolmOctober 29, 2018 Issueps://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018/10/29/six-glimpses-of-the-past
Am transfixed by the photographs you included in the post Vivienne; how striking it is when photos capture a characteristic pose, as yours have. Janet Malcolm’s exploration of memory and biography in the New Yorker resonates with your writing project Vivienne. Especially the last section of the article where she discusses her memories of her father.
Thank you Liz, this is a most interesting read. Maybe, I can incorporate more of the reflection on photos and their meaning next time.
How wonderful that you have persevered with this story. I wish you all the best of luck with the next stage, Vivienne!
Thanks Yvette, I need the encouragement. As you very well know, it can be a long and difficult journey.
Waiting in anticipation……🌺
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love the B52 🙂