Here I blog about writing, editing, reading, books, submissions, freelancing, getting published (and rejected), journalism, revisions, life after the MFA, teaching writing, and living the writer's life. Welcome. BUT -- if you are a writer: Write first, read blogs second.




Sunday, June 19, 2011

Dad, Writing -- and Writing About Dad

Father's Day. It may be that on this day, those who have lost our fathers feel an even keener need to honor them. After my father died, I wrote several nonfiction narratives and essays about him, about us,about the distance and the connection between us. A few have been published, others are making the rounds, still more are in the memoir manuscript draft, and the to-be-finished file. Other to-be-written Dad-related material is lurking in notebooks.

Why? I have some ideas, but really I'm not completely sure; that's part of what makes it so interesting to write this stuff.

My parents retired to Las Vegas in the early 1980s, and when he died, nearly five years ago and I flew out there, I wrote Two Weeks in Vegas. Later, when I thought back on his decline, I wrote Tip Not Included. Two poems are in the pipeline, with publication upcoming.

I don't know if I'll ever be done writing about Dad, which makes sense, since it was he who showed me what it was like to read with a constant, daily, insatiable hunger. For him, I think it was because formal education was taken away at an early age; for me, well, I suppose I just wanted to be like Dad.

8 comments:

Todd said...

Lisa,
Isn't it weird how we tend to write about the tragic things when it comes to losing our parents. I've only written a unpublished sketch about my dad after he died, but it was a sketch about him dying in hospital room. I wonder why memory does this this to us?
Todd

Lisa Romeo said...

Todd, that is a ageless question, I think. I actually find it "easier" (in the sense that I can express the feelings with more confidence) to write about pain then joy -- but then, I think that's true for most nonfiction writers, as well; another puzzling conundrum.

I hope you can enjoy some nice memories of your own father today.

Barbara McDowell Whitt said...

Lisa, you are a profound writer. I have looked at your two essays and will be back to read them in their entirety.

My dad died from the complications of multiple myeloma in 2002. Following the death of my mother from ovarian cancer in 1985, he married a woman who was younger than my youngest sister. They had a son who was born on our older daughter's 16th birthday. My half brother was seven when our father died. It was wonderful to see the happiness Glenda and Ian brought to my father.

Two days ago I had the privilege of seeing a man who reminded me of my father - the back of his neck, the color and texture of his hair, the slight stoop of his shoulders....

Lisa Romeo said...

Thanks, Barbara, for the kind words, and for sharing your Dad story, too.

I alsofrequently see a man who reminds me of my father; as you describe, it's often something small about the man's physical appearance that would be almost imperceptible to somoene else. I hope I never stop seeing those men!

Laraine Herring said...

Thanks, Lisa. I always think about these things. My dad died in 87 when I was 19 and it's pretty much shaped everything about my writing (even if death and dad are not the literal topic). Dad was my first reader. He helped me come up with a title for a short story I wrote for the 7th grade contest, which ended up winning. He wrote as well, but never really pursued it because of his illness and I'm sure a myriad of other things I'll never know. He died a few months before my first short story was published, but in my heart, he is still and always will be, my first reader.

Lisa Romeo said...

Oh, Laraine. Thanks for sharing your Dad story here. My father also wrote -- and sadly buried it all in a drawer. Whatever I write,I think about what he'd say if he could read it (even the stuff I know he wouldn't like!). As you say, he was the first reader...

kario said...

I wrote about my dad a lot as he was dying and not much since. Maybe once or twice a year, is all. Until I came across a call for submissions for cancer poetry. I don't write poetry. At least not since I was in high school and I penned these horrible, angst-ridden, hormonal missives that embarrass me now...

One poem kept rattling around in my head for days until I put it to paper. And now I'm working on another. I realized I miss writing about my dad. Maybe poetry is the new way for me to do that.

Thanks for sharing.

Lisa Romeo said...

Kario - I too got started writing poetry about five years ago(like you, after a long hiatus since some bad teenage stuff) because one just took up residence in my head.
Now I find many uncooperative essays (or balky parts of an essay), make better poems - or at least ALSO make interesting poems.