The Final Edit

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The Final Edit - A Good LifeHappy 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”.

The Final Edit - Conversations With My MotherThis 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

The Love of Writing

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I want to start my Sunday Musings Blog with a post most appropriately about reading and writing.

As a child I lived in a world of fantasy ~ very little was based in reality, even walking down the street was akin to dancing on a cloud! This could well have been a response to the hardship my parents and I experienced as post WW2 refugees. In the refugee camps in Germany my parents clung together with fear and courage, in our new country they clung together with hope and strength, and through it all I created a happy little world for myself.

When I started to read my fantasy world literally exploded. I discovered reading about the age of eight, probably a little later than most because we were a non-English speaking household. But when I did, I recall voraciously devouring Treasure Island, Robin Hood, Black Beauty, The Secret Garden ~ to this day all magnificent treasures. It was so exciting to be in the world of pirates and the merry men of Sherwood Forest! I will never forget reading about the tussle between Robin Hood and Little John as they battled it out back and forth on a log perched across the river. In my mind’s eye I experienced every step backwards and forwards until Little John ended up in the drink. And Black Beard with the wooden leg and a parrot on his shoulder; even though I was a girl, he was an amazing character for an eight year old! Then I read Black Beauty and my heart opened in a way that I’d never felt before. Yes, the magic world of words was now part of who I was and something I would never again be able to do without.

My urge to write didn’t surface until my high school days. I remember writing many beginnings, some of which are still firmly planted in my brain … ‘An occasional breeze stirred the desert sand’ … ‘I looked around and knew without a doubt that I was lost’ … but I never moved much beyond first sentences, though I do recall the very strong yearning to become a journalist one day. However life got in the way, and my writing really only began when I turned 40 years of age. A friend gave me a beautiful book with empty pages and I started journaling, and what an in depth experience that was! I began to delve into my thoughts and feelings in a way that was truly profound.

The Love of Writing

At the time my experiences were highly emotionally charged and life changing due to a serious accident, which I will talk about at another time. I much prefer to identify with what I’ve learned and to focus on the joy of life. However, suffice to say that as a result I was examining my philosophies, beliefs, and my fears, and I poured it all out on paper. And so began years of intense journaling ~ words which both astounded and supported me through the highs and lows of a determined battle to get better. I continued until I reached a place where my fears were laid to rest, where I was at peace within my soul, and where my heart was truly open.

Today my greatest joy is to feel inspired, to act with inspiration and to inspire others.  Perhaps my words born from the experience of past despair, perseverance, determination, insight, joy and love can do just that! And so with the greatest excitement, I conclude this first offering.

Inara Hawley © 2012