Thursday, October 27, 2011

How our stories shape us and how we shape our stories

My NaBlo posts are in the form of letters to my journal about my revision process. Along the way, I'll include Home-Made Revision Workshop posts, and my Friday Challenges.


Dear Journal,
I just realized that this is the anniversary of my second marriage. A marriage that is, in fact, still ongoing - well, only in legal terms. I haven't seen the guy for thirty years. We got married on October 27, 1979 - in Zeballos, British Columbia. It was raining and the loggers (of which he was one) were on strike. It was always raining - somewhat like Ken Kesey's book 'Sometimes A Great Notion' and the town inhabitants were often on strike or in a wobble (a one dayish strike). It was the wild west, isolated, populated with eccentrics trying to make their fortunes before their bodies broke down, or the police came to get them. Like that. 


The husband and I had met in Ottawa a number of years earlier and we'd taken up together, as was the style. He'd followed me out to the east coast and then I'd followed him (with two kids and a dog) to the west. The town was excited about the marriage. People usually didn't get married in Zeballos. They usually got married 'down island' or back in Ontario or wherever they were from, but my intended's family lived on the Sunshine Coast, and mine were from Ontario, and besides - mine weren't coming, as I'd already had one marriage in the decade and they wanted to see if it was going to last. My sister came, and close friends - all of whom ended up staying and hooking up with various brothers and cousins and buds of the original guy. Like I said, it was that sort of time and place.


I didn't mean to write about this. I meant to write about my sudden urgency to get back at it - back at my revision. I've been dipping into Susan Bell's The Artful Edit, and, as always, it has me fired up. But - I think there is a reason that I noticed the date and what it meant. True, the novel I'm revising, was inspired by something that happened to my estranged husband. Not to go into the details, which would be unkind of me, he got involved in an accident which led to him suffering a stroke , which was, in turn, followed by cognition problems. His story is much wilder than the one in my book - no one would believe it true but it is - and that doesn't matter so much for this post. What matters is that I asked myself in 1992 - when it happened - what if? What if I were still living with someone who wasn't quite themselves anymore? What would be the true and good thing to do? What if a marriage develops a crack in it that isn't because of drifting intentions or bad choices, but because of an externally constructed accident? That question led - these twenty years later - to the book I'm writing. It is about a marriage and what family means. I think I'll get back at it, while I remember its genesis.
 I'm the one in the hat and pinkish sweatshirt and I'll let the women be anonymous.......not sure who the dude is.......Libby, my lovely dog. in front of the General Store in Zeballos



6 comments:

Liza said...

So many writing exercises suggest that we delve into our pasts in order to create emotion in our writing...sounds like you've done so.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Wow, that is quite a situation upon which to draw!

Writer Pat Newcombe said...

It's always good to use life experiences to inspire your writing, I think...

Elspeth Antonelli said...

Thanks for sharing the first questions which started your story, Jan. I'm also off to discover where Zeballos is. I'd never heard of it before and I grew up on Vancouver Island, so there's a cape of shame settling around my shoulders.

Ann Best said...

The most powerful stories I've read are rooted in the writer's "real life" experiences. Yours sound like powerful resources. Everything you've shared in this post is SO intriguing!!
Ann Best, Author of In the Mirror, A Memoir of Shattered Secrets

Ann Best said...

p.s. I LOVE the photographs!!