My father thought he found himself in a character in Minnesota Cold, my first novel. Before release of The High Cost of Flowers I spoke with each member of our family to make sure they knew this book was not about us. My writing group asked what my husband thought of a short story about an unfaithful wife. Not to worry, he doesn’t read my work. But more important, I am a fiction writer. This wasn’t about me. It wasn’t about him. It was a story.
Laurie Hertzel, Senior Editor/Books of the Minneapolis Star Tribune and author of the memoir It’s All News to Me: Adventures of an Accidental Journalist, wrote about how family members approached reading a series of blog posts that focused on childhood memories. She said some members read with interest, some with anxiety, some with disapproval. With memoir project research collecting in a folder, I’m both curious and cautious about how other’s memories of an event might differ from mine. Trained as a journalist I’m looking for the comfort of facts even though stories of our family might be the guts of the book.
I admit my twentieth century great-grandmother inspired the twenty-first century protagonist of Minnesota Cold and that my father’s devoted caring for my mother, who suffered from dementia, influenced the development of Art in The High Cost of Flowers. Writing a memoir about the actual lives of these two individuals will be challenging. The powerful influence of familiar people, places and experiences in writing is reflected in AWP 2015’s first day schedule that includes three sessions on the topic. I’ll be in attendance.
Among the fears that held me back from publishing, offending somebody dear to me ranked fairly high. More than once I’ve read that if you can’t get over that concern you need to do something else. I’ve written five novels, but this memoir is clamoring for attention. Hopefully these AWP 2015 sessions will bring insights that help bolster my courage to take on a project that should be written.