As I read Andrew's black notebook of memories I had to remember I was not an editor, but a trusted friend. He wrote like a biographer and not a memoirist. I don't think he was able to get down into the depth of his feelings yet.
I know that is hard work and you have to be prepared for what came up. As I was writing more OPEN FOR LUNCH chapters, I noticed I actually shook all over when I was accessing and sharing the deepest feelings and secrets in my life. Yes, hard work. And it takes courage.
When Andrew and I got back together for another healthy lunch, I shared how beautiful his tribute was to his wife and their love.
"What do you think of the writing?" he asked.
I thought before I spoke. "It is factual, chronological, grammatically perfect," I said. "Feelings and sensory data are not part of the story, but that is okay. You have to be ready to write that. And some folks cannot ever take their stories further than the bare facts. That is not a bad thing. It just is. The tribute, the memories are all written out. A truly beautiful work. Thank you for allowing me to read it."
"You are still the only one who has read it, besides me."
I handed Andrew's book back to him but opened it to a passage where he spoke of an outing he and his wife had taken to shoot photos on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The writing was sharp and detailed. But the accompanying photos, by him and her, really told the story of their hearts. "This chapter really spoke to me. You capture the moment in words and images."
"Maybe I'm more a photographer than a writer," he said closing the notebook and handing me a stapled group of paper with typewritten words. "Here is the fiction story I was telling you I might write."
Again, I was honored but a bit stressed about taking on anything more. "I can't promise you when I will get to reading it. Do you want me to critique it?"
"Just tell me what you think."
We left it at that.
Can you see how delicately I needed to tread with Andrew's writing? Critique is a careful reading...what works, what doesn't is the general rule. But that needs to be handled with kid gloves, too. I learned that in my many writing classes. No one wants to go away totally discouraged!
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Open For Lunch
Award Finalist in the "Health: Alternative Medicine" category of the 2017 Best Book Awards