Christmas with Girlie
Christmas 2019. Done. Meg and I went to the Bonney family get-together at the beginning of December, Christmas Eve was joyfully spent with the Stropin-related family side and then I flew to Brisvegas on Christmas Day to have a pleasant lunch with the Shillitoe line. Grandson Henri was awesome as always. Girlie would have enjoyed all three events.
The last Christmas I spent with Mum was the end of 2012. On her birthday, March 24, 2013, she was taken to hospital and told she had terminal bowel cancer. Happy birthday. She died in August of that same year. Christmas as the only senior adult of the family is not the same.
Festivities and family activities aside, at least I can spend a little more focussed time on the novel's second-edit and redraft. And let me just say to would-be writers - this is the part that is mind-numbingly challenging because by this stage I have read all and parts of the work maybe 6-8 times creating and making alterations. Writing requires a level of self-discipline I struggle to commit to, especially when so many great things are going on around me. And there's always sleep as an option!
Today, I am at the halfway point of the manuscript since my last post concerning readers' feedback. I have worked in adjustments and suggestions, as well as added details from interviews with family that fit the story concept. An example is shifting the nurses' names from first to surnames to reflect the work environment at the hospital - so Woods instead of Shirley.
I ended up returning to researching the 1948 storm that wrecked the foreshores, smashed the Glenelg pier and beached the warship HMAS Barcoo, and added more detail around it to a chapter of the novel. Inevitably I found myself distracted, reading about the efforts to refloat the Barcoo and how Charlie Pudney was stranded at the end of Glenelg pier during the storm - research does that.
What the most recent family interviews brought to light was a very obvious discrepancy between how the older and younger children viewed the father of the family, so I have worked that into the text. Also my mother - Girlie - never mentioned a range of facts around what was happening to the family during her time at the Repatriation Hospitals, so I am now working small details into the text concerning the family move to Port Neill and various places in the city, up to and including three of the children ending up in children's homes for a period of time. Again, these are not crucial to the overall story, and will be passing mentions in the scope of Girlie's tale, but they add a layer or texture to the background that highlights the tragedies so many families experienced in post second world war Adelaide.
Now I must go back to reciting dialogue aloud to myself and ruminating over the right words for the sentence, and the sentence structure and length, and deciding whether the adjectives and adverbs are necessary, and whether the reader will be able to feel/imagine the scene and the people. I'm hoping to finish the second half before the end of this week and before I head back to work the following week.
At Christmas time, there's something rather warm about writing a novel based on my mother as a young woman - like having those conversations together we might never have had about our lives otherwise. I hope you all had good Christmases and that you spent time with those you love and those who love you. This brief life is precious. Cherish the special moments. Be in them.