Saturday, November 3, 2007

Sharing My Story

An agent has requested the first 50 pages of my book, Breaking the Code-A Daughter's Journey. You know, writing is a funny thing. You pour your blood, sweat (ok...yuck, not sweat) and tears (definitely tears for this project), into writing with hopes of publication. But then when it comes to letting someone else hold your baby, you get scared, or at least I did. My first order of business was to let my dad read it. You'd think that would be the easy part, I mean, I interviewed my dad for the book; he is at least 50% of it. But somehow this part was super difficult.

I went over to his house with the first 50 pages, handed them to him and ran. Well, not exactly but that is definitely how I felt. What was so difficult about it? I'm not sure I can put it into words, but I'll try because I think I must.

When my father gave me the letters he'd written during WWII more than five years ago, I began transcribing them. The transcription lead to questions so we met every Wednesday so that I could get my questions answered. And as he answered the questions, I began writing the answers and the process into a book. My book is about that journey we took together. Here is a short exerpt from Chapter One;

"I found myself on the other side of the line he'd drawn in the sand. I stepped over cautiously, then looking into his eyes; I backed up in silence, deafening silence. My questions unanswered, I wanted to scream, "What is this? All these years you've had these [letters] and you didn't tell me? Why? Tell me now. Tell me everything." But instead I stood on the other side of that line. He bowed his head and walked away, into a dense ocean fog."

You see, this book is not just me telling a story about my father. It is very personal. It is my story too. And the story I tell is emotional. It's personal. My father and I don't talk that way. I don't share my feelings and he doesn't share his. We talk about "things." We talk about "stuff" but never feelings. It's like after 40+ years, I am opening up my heart and letting him see what's there. We went through this journey together and we are closer for it. But until now, he didn't know how the experience affected me.

So there you have it. You, my blog-readers, forced me to put into words what I barely understood in my head. And I think it helped. Thanks! ~Karen

nanowrimo word count: 5,366


Eileen said...

Yeah Karen, Congratulations on an agent requesting to read your pages. Keep us posted how that goes! And also how your NaNoNiNoMoSo(it's something like that) writing goes. Speaking of your father's letters, I really wish my dad had something from his 18 mos in Germany after the war...I've been watching *The 40's* - a set of videos in about...that decade and it's been simply fascinating. (Can you believe, an enormous selection of videos about US History here in our public library. Granted, in the Foreign Language Dept, but I am learning a lot!) So I do envy the gifts you have from your dad - a stash of letters and conversation...

Karen, YES - received your email a while back. So interesting. I'm so behind, pokey on email. But I enjoyed reading about your dream! =) EE

Karen L. Alaniz said...

Well Good morning Eileen! Today is daylight savings time day so we set our clocks back an hour. I don't suppose you have that there. I think it's just a U.S. thing.

I took the pages over to my older friend (the one mentioned in my blog a month or two ago, with photo). I will go over this afternoon to see what she thought. But that is much easier than with my dad. And she is a grammar expert so that'll help to have those kinds of eyes see it.

I want to send it tomorrow (Monday). That's my goal. Glad you got the email. Have a fab. day!


Lillie Ammann said...

Congratulations on the agent's interest and good luck!

Eileen said...

Karen, you silly! Yes we change clocks here too (just have a look at my blog - *Falling Back already*).

Always great to hear from you and to read your blog. Cute self portrait today! EE

Nita said...

Yay Karen! I'm just now getting back to the blogs after an extended time-out. Having watched you go from, "guys, I'm trying to put this book together about..." to "the book is finished" I am so happy and proud for you that an agent is interested.

Eileen is right, you are lucky to have the letters. My in-laws destroyed the letters my fil sent back, as I'm sure many families did. But, the rest of us are lucky too, you're sharing them with us.

Karen L. Alaniz said...

Thank you Nita! Yeah-it's been a long road, but one well worth traveling.

I just finished one more edit and should send it out VERY soon.


Linda Austin said...

I published my mother's very personal memoir of life in Japan during WWII because it was so educational, but even now, two years after the first edition, I still cringe thinking strangers are reading something so personal to our family!


Karen L. Alaniz said...

Really Linda? I'm going to go check out your book. So your grandmother is Japanese? I'm really just so interested in that era and in hearing the stories. I know what you mean though. I'm sure as being published gets closer, I will feel even more "exposed."

Thanks for posting a comment!


Linda Austin said...

Thanks, Karen. My mother is Japanese, a teen living near Tokyo during the war. I like your blog, which I stumbled across while looking for other blogs similar to mine. And I like the twist you've taken of writing your father's life entwined with your own journey with him. Perhaps it will inspire others to crack open the door of reticence in their relationships.