Happy dance ~ the final edit is done! The words are written, the photographs are all in, and the formatting is done ~ it’s finished. A year of solid work is now polished and shining. Hubby’s memoir, ‘A Good Life’, is now ready for the printer, and there’s no better feeling than being satisfied with the end result. It’s exactly how I envisaged it would be, and Hubby is very happy to have a record of his life. For him, it has been a long held desire and he has dedicated the book to his four beautiful daughters with the following words: “To know your ancestors is to know yourself”.
This is my second labour-of-love book for the family. The first, ‘Conversations With My Mother’, was the story of my parents’ life from their early days in Latvia where they were born, leaving behind their beloved homeland, surviving the Second World War and crossing the oceans as refugees to start a new life in a country further away than they could ever have imagined. Sitting and talking with my mother about their life was a gift and a blessing. Putting it all into words was for me, an intense and emotional journey, one which took two years and a lot of tears. When I finally put the book into my mother’s hands I could see how much it mattered. It was her legacy.
Hubby’s memoir, however, was quite a different journey ~ it is about a very pleasurable and happy life. I worked from his notes, which he had put together over a five year period. Each time he sat down to write, he did it randomly from memory without referring to his previous notes, so there was not only repetition, but time gaps as well. A challenge indeed, but a beginning nonetheless … and there’s nothing I like better than a good challenge!
I sorted, edited, and added words, and asked lots of questions, the most frequent of which was: “And how did you feel about that?” I also followed his brief, putting it together the way he wanted it structured, and of course, wrote in his voice. Expressing someone’s life and thoughts onto the page is a most unique and rewarding experience. The end result is 81,200 words and 370 pages covering 4-5 generations of ancestry research, and the life and times of a man who has had a very good life indeed.
When I picked it up again last week for the final edit (there have been at least three previous edits), I had not looked at it for about 12 months, and I must say, it was a great feeling to find that I was impressed ~ it’s good! And it reminded me of how much I love the whole process from start to finish. For me, the challenge at the beginning is like a little tickle which births an exciting bubble that grows with each new page of words. In its creation it becomes a world of its own, one which I stepped into every day and made mine until it was finished, until that final edit when the pages were not part of me anymore, but an entity of their own. Then I knew it was done.
One day I’ll turn my hand to fiction, but for now, what I enjoy most is writing true-life stories and exploring what they mean to each one of us. That’s what this blog is all about, and one day, my stories will become part of my book. I hope that the final edit is something I will always be working towards.
Inara Hawley © 2014