The new book is about half done. The first ten chapters and the last three are written, so I know how it starts and I know where it goes. Weird, but now all I have to do is draw the map between them.
To wrap it up, I pulled a phrase I’d uttered many miles ago to a someone I’d just met. “I’m not ready to let you go.” Later, she and I used that moment often as a reference point for how it all began.
Yesterday, I shared with her I’d used the seminal sentence, even though she and I have been through so much since then.
“I notice you put a lot of your own life into your writing,” she said.
“I hoped to make you smile,” I replied.
“I am smiling,” she said. I could tell from her tone it was true.
“I wanted to give the reader that same sense of hope, vulnerability. In the book it’s different in degree than when I first said it, but the same in what it meant.”
“Hmm,” she said, or something similar.
A couple of months ago, on our last trip over the mountain, she was engrossed looking at photos she’d taken on her phone of places we’d traveled. “It’s all about making memories,” she said.
I wanted to say, look at the snow in the trees, wet leaves on black pavement, take my hand in yours, make this a memory! Be with me! But I just drove, knowing that grasping harder would squeeze the remaining life out of what we had, not knowing how to keep her from slipping away.
So I put words I’ve heard and words I’ve said and wanted to say into the mouths of characters in a novel half finished. It’s a complete fiction woven of moments some of which are real, by a writer trying to make sense of what is and what’s not, using memories to create something that never happened.