Wednesday, January 27, 2010
My dad, who knows little about the Writer Life (other than the fact his daughter is always working) and who stopped inquiring 'how is the book coming?' about two years ago, finally asked, "So how much money are you going to make on this biography?"
"Dad, I couldn't tell you. I'll probably never be paid enough for the time and tears I've put into it."
He shook his head, having some small idea what the book has cost me. "I bet you won't do that again," he opined. He can't understand why someone would give up so much for so little.
Sometimes, neither can I, to be honest. I could have made an easier choice for my first book. There were some days (actually today is one of them!) when I thought there could not be a task more emotionally challenging than writing a biography on a living person. I was making a decent living as a freelance writer before I took last year off to write. It will take me many months to get my footing and find work again, so my personal and financial sacrifice to make this book a reality is significant.
No, it certainly wasn't illusions of grandeur or fame or wealth that spurred me on or even prompted me to tackle this project. So what was my agenda?
I have to say, this was one of the heart-projects. One of those things you know that you have to do, even though you don't know why or how you're going to do it or what will come of it.
Such is the power of story.
Some stories just have to be told. Mary Majka's is one of them.
Over a three year period, I had what I called, 'Thursdays with Mary', as we worked our way through the days of her 80 year old life. It was often painful for both of us. Many times I had to confront and reaffirm my reasons for continuing. Some days I ran away to sit by the shore and cry. But what I learned through the process is profound. I know the ripples (and aftershocks) created during these interviews will continue through my own life and lives of those who read the book.
It's hard not to measure our success by whether or not we reach our destination. But what about those little ripples we make as we journey along? Many ripples make a wave; waves travel long distances.
Who knows what shores they will reach? What people they will touch?