Friday, September 14, 2007

A Mid-Atlantic Turning Point in My Writing: Part 6

(This is the penultimate installment of a serialized essay on a crucial moment in gathering courage to write.)




Dinner: carpaccio, kiwi sorbet, duck a l'orange. A very good red wine. ...And Francis Ford Coppola, we finally realized, was eating only one table away. I'd thought that man looked familiar. Big and bearded, the famous screenwriter and director was supervising the dinners of the two children who were with him. He seemed to me a man who wanted his privacy, who did not want to be noticed.

Next morning: lying in bed, reflections of the water outside racing across the ceiling. I could understand Coppola's wanting to be left alone. My first novel Revelation has a bone-honesty that was painful for me. The story of a troubled minister, it is fiction; yet that minister's cast of mind is close to my own. Delicious as publication of that book was, I also came to feel as if my brain had been laid bare. As one reader said to me with a teasing grin, "we know you thought those thoughts." I've since half-consciously wanted to pull the drapes around myself.

But then I discovered it's impossible to write a memoir and maintain more than a minimal privacy. The new book would have to be far more revealing than Revelation, with its mere hints of my inner world. This made me angry, I resented it; but decided to proceed anyway. With a sense that I was doing violence to myself, I began the long work of dismantling the habits of guardedness, fearing of course, as I still do, that I might reveal myself only to find no one interested.

4 comments:

Debra Whaley said...

Hi Peggy,

Interesting to read your feelings about Revelation since I am now about half way through it! I am enjoying it very much, and have often thought about Swain's relationship to you. It is interesting to read your novel after having met you, personally, because it gives me a different perspective. I really loved Sister India, and Revelation is quite different. I know that they were written years apart, so I can see the evolution that must have taken place during the interim. Very intriguing...

I had a wonderful week at Rancho La Puerta although the first couple of days were over 100 degrees! That was pretty difficult to deal with. Once it cooled down a bit, the days were very pleasant. I took a cooking class on the second day that the new cooking school opened, and I loved it.

Thanks for continuing to share your Mid-Atlantic experience! I am really enjoying it.

Love,
Debbie

Peggy said...

You're right, Debbie. My novels are very different...I appreciate your close study of them.

A week at Rancho would be lovely right now, but I'm not sorry to miss the 100 degree part. I think that's pretty rare there. I've taught there in August and I don't think it was ever that hot. But then everywhere seems to be warming up.

Only one more day of the Mid-Atlantic experience. Maybe I need to go to sea and have another one.

billie said...

Peggy, the series is great - I've been reading and enjoying all along!

I can't help but think of you in your sea kayak - a very different (and perhaps BOLDER) sea journey??

Peggy said...

Don't know about bolder, but the kayak is certainly a wetter journey. So far I haven't had any career turning points while out paddling, but maybe that's still to come. I'm glad you like this piece, Billie; it's one that means a great deal to me.