By now most of you will be wondering when I’m going to stop writing about my great-aunt Lena. Between Christian Cassidy's research and my own, we have exhausted the topic. Apart from some LDS research I need to do before erecting a monument on her grave at Brookside Cemetery, I’m finished. We now know far more about her life and death than we ever did before. This exercise illustrates the amount of detail that can be gleaned from genealogical, archival and geographical research to bring to life the characters of your memoir. The family photos, news coverage from the fire and a lot of 'perhapsing' resulted in a real person coming to life on the page. I will leave this topic for now and move back to my memoir which has been lying fallow these many months.
After writing the first draft of what I thought was the first two thirds of my story, I got stuck on where and how to end it. I played around with various possibilities but nothing felt right to me. Advice from my writing pals and teacher didn't help either. The unexpected death of our daughter Milo in May 2010 and other family demands crowded in on my writing time. I distracted myself with genealogical research on my husband's family and setting up another blog. I even considered chucking my memoir!
James FitzGerald, a Toronto author and journalist. I then connected to the Random House site where the first chapter of his latest book, WHAT DISTURBS OUR BLOOD is available. The power of his voice knocked me out. I could see how he deftly braided together the threads of a complex (far more so than mine) family and personal memoir as well as a medical history of his prominent grandfather and father told from the voice of the boy, himself. Suddenly, I could see a way forward for my story.
Now I'm writing again and it will be in my voice, my style, my weaving of the threads of my own story. You never know where the inspiration will come from. Just keep reading. The writing will follow.
Copyright © 2011, Ruth Zaryski Jackson