Thursday, January 29, 2015

a student success story

A student worked with me at U of T and then privately, labouring on her memoir. She's in high level finance, a Vice-President who'd never done any creative writing, but she had a powerful story she wanted her children to know, about growing up overseas, her charming but neglectful and sometimes dangerous father, and later her charming but neglectful and sometimes dangerous ex-husband. As we worked together, she told me the pages beneath her pen were often sodden with tears. But she finished, edited, rewrote, rewrote, rewrote. It took years.

She self-published this well-written, thoughtful and moving work as a memoir, but though people appreciated her honesty, she felt terribly exposed. So - she reworked the memoir as a novel, which didn't take much effort - she changed all the names and a few of the places and self-published again under a pseudonym - and that was it. Otherwise, it's the same story. And a beautiful story it is too. I'm sorry she can't just own her story - but I understand the need to protect oneself. 

She's going home for a high school reunion next month - and has learned that most of her old friends have read her novel and are full of admiration for her writing ability and courage (because of course, they know exactly who it's about). And now, a professor teaching a course in the history of that country has put her book on the curriculum. As I wrote in the last post, we never know where our work is going to land, but we do it anyway.

She just sent me this very kind note:
Please remember that I'd never have come up with this book if I had been left to write on my own. I needed you! To squeeze the truth out of me, to unpack and keep unpacking, to frankly tell me what wasn't working, to form the nebulous nightmare into something that others can easily understand - although not a few of those who've read it say it's a painful, difficult read, in spite of the fact that they couldn't put it down. I'd never have thought!

And what I say to that is BRAVA.

1 comment:

  1. I think, I will, after all, have to join your course at U of T.