This past week I was asked “how was writing One More Moon different from what I’d experienced writing the last book?” It’s a curious question – one that I find myself reflecting upon now and certainly something that I was not overly conscious of when I was writing. Had I considered the difference, would it have changed the way I wrote One More Moon?
Old habits are hard to break. I can’t say the way I approached the writing changed much – the way I researched, my daily routine, the thought process. I always take my craft seriously. Even though this was a different story, little else changed. One initial reviewer noticed. But, no one else did and I never gave it much more thought.
I realize now that it’s very obvious. The difference? My first book, A Smile in One Eye, is told by a man, my father. I tried to put myself into my father’s head and explain his world from a man’s perspective. My new book, One More Moon, is told by a woman, my grandmother. I had to find her voice, understand the world from her vantage point, and speak the words she would have said. I honestly can’t say that I purposely tried to write one with a male voice and the other with a female voice. I didn’t instinctively prepare or choose my words differently. I wasn’t aware of the nuance – I hope this was because I didn’t want there to be one. I didn’t try to express their emotions or how they said things differently simply because one was a man and the other a woman. My aim was to portray and project the individual characters as I knew them. I wanted them to be real.
Now I wonder how readers will react. Do readers prefer books written in a woman’s voice versus a man’s? Did I make these characters authentic? Should I have used a different pen name? Will their voices stand up to the scrutiny of my readers? When put to paper, what does distinguish a man’s voice from a woman’s? Is there a stereotype that one is supposed to follow? As One More Moon rolls out in the coming weeks and months I am sure I will learn many of the answers. Readers have a way of being very direct in their observations. They will tell me the answers.
Many of my friends have asked “what drives you to want to write a book?” After-all, I am at a pretty good place in life – retired, healthy, happy, energetic – certainly not lacking. Why would I want to spend most of my days (and many of my nights) working on a second book? I never planned to become an author. This wasn’t my life’s work. This was never my training and certainly not my profession. In high school I was the guy sent to shop class – never advanced English.
The thing is I have more things that I want to say! I suspect that most of us do. That’s why I put so much energy into writing One More Moon. I know that telling a story is a wonderful way to convey a thought.
I want to leave something “of me” behind for my future generations. I am convinced that they won’t care too much about my stuff (I am sure that they won’t know what to do with it.) But, my words? My words won’t take much space (and they won’t require dusting!) I hope my words will live on. I want my words to continue to be heard. I want the chance to make a difference in the lives of my grandchildren’s children.
There are many things I care deeply about. I want my future generations to have a sense of where we came from. I want them to understand the struggles that led to where they are with their lives. I want to pass on certain values.
My two books tell the story of refugees – people who were forced to leave their homelands, not because of their faults, but because of the arrogant and dangerous self-righteousness of others.
I want the words that I leave on this earth to remind the future generations that everyone (no matter the differences in our genes, our DNA, our circumstance, our beliefs) is entitled to respect and dignity – that we all belong to the same race – the human race. I want them to care and pay attention when political leaders prey on our differences. I want others to know that we should never be defined that way. We must be defined by our similarities. Sometimes that is not an easy thing to do – but that is what we have to do to make this world continue to work. What we share in common is a thread that should never be broken.