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Tuesday, June 28, 2005

UNPUBLISHED LEGACIES:

The importance of writing. Written just before the author sold her first book
by Lorna Tedder


A few nights before my second child was born, I woke from a screaming nightmare. I'd been sleeping in the recliner downstairs, so I didn't even have the comfort of my husband's arms, and at that moment, I felt more alone--more mortal--than ever before.

In my dream, I had learned that I was dying. My mother, now in her sixties and not in the best of health, vowed to keep my memory alive for as long as she lived, but I knew that my two-year-old would soon forget me and that the baby I carried would never know me. Waking, I stumbled to my toddler's bed, gazing at her with the lovelorn somberness of new motherhood and hugging the overdue child inside me until my tears ran down my cheeks and into the collar of my nightgown.

Throughout the next few days and long nights, I couldn't get the dream out of my mind. I knew I could blame it on hormones, but the question kept nagging me: if I died today, how would my children ever know me? I found my answer just as the contractions were coming five minutes apart.

The doctor had told me to keep busy until I was ready to go to Labor and Delivery. The contractions were too distracting to write, so I started reading through my unpublished manuscripts--five of them, all in various stages of submission to different publishing houses.

That's when I realized that I held in my hands the most precious legacy I can pass on to my children.

I'll admit I'm a hard person to get to know and probably as hard for those closest to me to understand as I am to a stranger meeting me for the first time. But the greatest key to discovering what goes on in my heart and mind and the rest of me I keep locked so tightly away, is in the ardently spun stories I've committed to paper.

My stories are about strength and weakness, love and yearning, and most of all about passion. If they're looking for my values, my children will find heroines who believe in self-sufficiency and hard work, heroines who draw on the inner strength they don't know they have, and heroines who are wealthy in their family, their roots, and their land. They'll see that I'm attracted to a man's eyes and the way he coos to his baby girl. They'll read about heroes who aren't infallible and sometimes aren't redeemable until the story's end but are always a little dangerous and a little mysterious. In my secondary characters, they'll meet my mother, bits and pieces of people I've known or heard about, and shadows from their childhood as well as my own.

In my manuscripts, they'll discover what I've learned of love--that it's always surprising, sometimes illogical and ill-timed, but never to be regretted. They'll realize, through my portrayal of fathers with daughters and mothers with children, just how much my husband and I enjoyed them when they were little. Finally, they'll unmask the passion of a mother who never said much and never seemed to get too excited about anything.

No inheritance--neither money nor land--will ever be as worthy to be passed on to her children as a mother's soul transformed into words. My stories, so precariously immortal, have the power to outlive me, whether published and displayed in bookstores for a mere thirty days or never published at all. One day my children and their children after them and generations I may never know will hopefully read my words and have an understanding of who I am now, of what is important to me, and of the dreams I carry in my head and the love I carry in my heart. I can't say it doesn't matter if those manuscripts are never published. It does matter--but my legacy matters more.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
© 1992 by Lorna Tedder

[written a few months before the author sold her first novel]


Dr. Lorna Tedder is an award-winning, best-selling author who routinely shares her writing and marketing expertise at national writers' conferences, online, and through her writing guides. Her non-fiction guides for writers include BOOK PROMOTION FOR THE SHAMELESS, BOOK PROMOTION SAVVY, and RECLAIMING THE MAGIC: A WRITER'S GUIDE TO SUCCESS. All three books are available at www.SpilledCandy.com.

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