I conceived the idea for Because She Was a Woman out of love, or a memory I love at any rate.
For two weeks, these women paraded in my head, with different faces and names and personalities. Some I knew, some I just met. Some I liked, others I'd prefer no further contact. Some are presumably white, others are
, some are Asian and there is one that
appears to be a minion of the Beast. Some are sweet, some are insecure, some
are killers, some lie, and some are funny. Some love and others have forgotten
how. Some are young and some are young at heart. Latina
Then came putting all their stories together into some sort of cohesive form, letting them come to life on their own terms without me interfering.
I’ve printed all twelve stories and, the hardest part, is giving up my baby. It needs a new pair of eyes, because self-editing is effective to only a certain point. Since I know what I meant to write, sometimes, no matter how methodical you want to be, you miss little things. I trust Mom with my life, but there is something so ephemeral about ownership when it comes to writing. It feels like it is yours after the story surrenders to your fingers on the keyboard. It is yours the first read through.
The moment you hand it over to be read by another, it’s like giving up your child for adoption. This is not to minimize adoption from either perspective. You feel like you conceived, nurtured and gave birth to it and then you get attached and you love it and want to protect it and keep it close to your bosom, but you know you have to let it go…
The moment you let it go, you mourn that, because it becomes less yours and less the creature you created and more whatever the reader makes of it. You gave it life and love, but it only evolves through the nurturing understanding of others who glance upon it.
The whole process has put me in a semi-melancholic state and I have been preoccupied with memory and memories, the difference, and the fragility of both concepts.
I suppose that part of it is that on March 15 was grandma’s (paternal) birthday and I miss her very much. I know we will never have what we did; the memory of it is mine now because I do not know that she still possesses it. Not helping my state of mind is the fact that Mami (maternal grandmother) is in a similar state.
There is this yearning to write my book, hand her a Kindle and say, “Look what I did, Grandma!” I can’t do that and that makes me desperately sad. So I try not to dwell on it, because half of it terrifies me. I think of her as I had her: vibrant and funny, opinionated and loving. That is my story with her. I do wonder what her own recurring story is and I suspect that some of it might be of her dancing years.
Maybe on my next anthology, I’ll write a story of a dancer and imagine a happy ending for her.
This is Grandma dancing with Geoffrey Holder in the olden days (from the
digital archives): Marquette University