I’ve gotten my manuscript back from my readers, and they gave me really helpful comments! But one really struck me: a suggestion that I open the story with a key moment that my dad and I shared.
I sat on this for a week, thinking that something would float to my mind.
I sat on it for another week.
And then another.
Long enough for my husband to ask me just the other day, “You’re still writing a book, aren’t you?”
I have been paralyzed by this simple but vital suggestion.
My dad and I lived together for only a few years with respect to my whole life (and his), and most of his time was spent focusing on other things, like his other children or his church. Growing up, I didn’t really think about this; it was just the way things were, so there wasn’t anything to question. Until I got this great question.
I can think of only a couple of really key moments that my father and I had together when I was younger. He taught me how to put on my clothes (“The tag goes in the back”) and how to tie my shoes. He also taught me how to cross the street, and how to steer a car from the passenger’s seat (why that was a necessary skill, I hope to never find out).
He had a few sayings that I found annoying or infuriating depending on how serious I was being at the time.
“What’s up?” Someone would say.
“Chicken butt,” Dad would reply. “Five cent a cup; want some?”
He also taught me a weird rhyme/song that involved a monkey chewing tobacco on a streetcar line, then dying and going to heaven in a row boat.
Other than that, like Dory the blue-tang fish, I don’t really remember a lot in terms of one-on-one interactions with my dad.
I asked my therapist what I could do to try to mine some more things, and he suggested hypnotism. I’m not really sure I’ll undergo that; the idea of releasing control of my mind really freaks me out. Coming up with some great things for my book might not be worth that stress.
It’s been incredibly frustrating—not remembering these really key details that I think could possibly make or break my book—but there doesn’t seem to be much else I can do.
So, for now, I’ll just have to toil with what I have and see how that impacts the story.
How do you remember things that are buried really deeply?