I wanted the rhythm, dialogue, and story movement to create a kind of ping-pong sense in the reader. As if we were moving around in time in ways that both mimic and honor the reality of those who are experiencing memory problems—and their loved ones who are attempting to interact with them.
I think it’s tempting but also kind of dangerous to buy into the myth of the father as superhero, and it’s perhaps more important that the children see you try, struggle, and occasionally fail. I think when I’m writing about it in the book, I’m mostly talking about my confusion and failures. As I argue in the preface, I think confusion is often the most interesting engine of art and writing.
My hope, at the end, is that as you read the essay, the diagram begins as just an image of a mechanical part but ends as a vital accompaniment to the words. That the image and the memory don’t just refer to each other directly, but that the image takes on a heavier or more ironic or more emotional role.
When I write fiction, I feel connected to the joy and beauty of life. For me there is a deeper level of truth in fiction, a complexity and, wisdom—and a kindness too that was certainly lacking in my earliest books. As women we are just as complicated and diverse in our interests and tastes as anyone else.
We learn about ourselves through our past and our histories. This learning process has become more important to me as I’ve gotten older. And it goes both ways, in seeking, reading, and listening, and in sharing and not keeping that information to ourselves.
Elizabeth Jarrett Andrew discusses her writing life, spirituality, and the craft of revision.
We publish profiles of writers who are mothers, writers who write about motherhood, and writers who have something to say to mothers. This includes well-known, living mama writers, of course, but also off-beat, lesser-known, not-so-obvious mama writers. Read more here.