I marvel at those who write their own memoirs. How daring they must be. What has always drawn me to fiction is the power of a story to capture and define. And it is one thing to use that power to illuminate a fictional character: here’s a bit and there’s a bit and for one shimmery second, here’s someone who might be whole. But it’s quite another to train that power on my own life. In We Are Called to Rise, Avis says she didn’t like to write things in a baby book. That she didn’t want to shape events after they happened. And she got that fear from me.
I once was a girl who worked in a store that sold guns and toys. That’s her in the photo above. Before that I was the youngest daughter and a middle child in a big and happy family. I grew up across the street from a river, in a magical house, in a poor and thrilling neighborhood. My life divides in two: before that family had a great grief, and after. Many years have gone by, and I barely recognize this girl. Now my joys are my children, my dear friends, my family, a marriage that has lasted thirty years, a teaching career that grounds me in real lives, and this glorious crazy journey of becoming a published writer when I thought such possibilities were past.
Would you know more about me if you knew where I lived, or the names of my pets, or what degrees I earned? Would you know me if I told you about the dreams I have at night, or the regrets that wake me up, or the memories that make me laugh aloud? Perhaps. But then I would have to choose just what to reveal, and this is a power best reserved for fictional characters – those who can be neither hurt nor embellished by my choices.