Well, I just finished rewriting the ending of my novel as requested by a publisher. We will see what they think.
Either way, I believe this new ending is stronger–still hopeful, but less certain. More in keeping with the way things are for most of us when things we love go missing, or when struggling with our own demons and addictions.
I’ve decided something else too. Quite a few publishers have wanted to see more of the missing mother in my story, yet I wasn’t willing to do that. It would have unraveled the very premise of my novel, which was, how do we cope when the center holding everything together falls apart? When that upon which we most depend disappears?
I wanted the mother to be part of the puzzle, not a presence herself, but that “absent” presence we feel, even yearn for, but cannot quite pin down, and never really know for certain.
Do any of us ever, really, know our mothers? Don’t we only know them through our own often faulty and incomplete perceptions of them? What they’ve allowed us to see, or what we choose to believe? All knowledge is partial and open to revision. We may know the facts that lay before us. But do facts a person make?
Yet even while I’ve resisted the call to add the mother’s perspective to this novel, I can understand how a reader might want more of her, to hear about her journey as she travels away from her family and through South America. What does she learn as she discovers the world through the new lens of her photography? Does it lend insight into her past? Into herself as a mother and wife and now an artist? How does it shape her anew? Where does it take her?
I think it might be fun to give the mother her own voice and space, to see what shaped her past and how her journey shapes her future.
It’s the thing I love most about writing, discovering what I never knew I knew before I began to write it, as if the words themselves are drawn from some inner well of insight or vision I never knew I had.
“We create ourselves out of our innermost intuitions,” so writes a sage.
I believe that. And I also believe our characters are created in much of the same way. I wonder if we all contain multiple characters within us that make themselves known to us through our writing? Or are we just writing our larger selves?
Perhaps all the selves of all the people we’ve come to know, to experience, in this wider world, once known, become part of us, at least partially?
I believe there is a collective consciousness that we tap into from time to time, and writers, perhaps, most of all.
Sometimes I don’t know where I end and another begins.
My son says I have boundary issues. No doubt he’s right.