It doesn’t matter what happens to us, it matters what we do with it.
This is a journalistic blog. A forum for me to express what is foremost in my mind—the launching of my new novel The Drummer’s Widow.
When I began writing The Drummer’s Widow, three years ago, my husband of thirty years was in remission. And though my overwhelming fear of becoming a widow had dissipated after his long remission, I was still compelled to write an “almost” story of how I imagined it would be for a widow to reinvent her life after her husband’s death.
Then, abruptly, one month ago, just before my book’s release, to use a popular Virginia Woolf phrase, “life interrupted.” My husband was diagnosed with a second cancer, lymphoma, and I slammed up against the realty that my fictional widowhood could actually become true.
Having sent out pre-announcements of “The Drummer’s Widow,” I received sympathy notes from people who knew my husband was a drummer but didn’t know the book was fiction. I suggested to my husband that we postpone the release until after his chemotherapy treatments or change the title. He insisted that I go ahead, in spite of what might happen.
Alice Munro has said that some of her stories are “almost stories” because they are “autobiographical in feeling, though not, sometimes, entirely so in fact.” That’s how Marisa came into existence: she was the widow of my imagination but she was also my worse nightmare. The threat of my husband’s death has hovered over me for the past ten years and, no doubt, it influences my writing even now. It was the unrelenting fear of what might happen that urged me to move more deeply into my own heart and soul where I found Marisa’s story waiting to be told and shared it with my readers.
Nora Ephron learned from her mother, also a writer, how to make the best of what life offers. “No matter what happens,” her mother was fond of telling her, “It’s all copy.” My understanding of that is that It doesn’t matter what happens to us; what matters is what we do with it.