wings and things

Auto/biographical risks

on January 7, 2016

I was very fortunate to have once been a student of Elizabeth Jolley. She wrote fiction that was heavily laced with fact; she changed names to protect the guilty; she took risks.

The primary reason that I have hesitated over the years (decades actually!) to write what I think is a rather spectacular love story, is due to the yucky bits of the story – the betrayals, conflicts, mysteries and agonies in and amongst its success.

By writing increments of this “Once upon a time” story, I face the challenge of writing about how Anthony and I dealt with the disapproval of our relationship from both sides – from both families – and from well-meaning friends.

Over the last few weeks I have blogged outside the “Once upon a time” story, with tidbits of information about a recent event that traumatised me, and reminded me of some of the yucky stuff from the past. These posts, some now deleted, or edited, are, privately, an avenue into the complicated past of my relationship with Anthony.

When I say rather dramatic things like ‘spectacular love story’ I only mean that it was against all odds – a 41-year-old and an 18-year-old (the beginning), and now (the ending?), a nearly 57-year-old girl/woman sitting in a nursing home with her hands hugged by his nearly 80-year-old fingers.

My recent truthful tidbits have earned me the angst of one family member and, conversely, the support of many others.

I remember, years ago, Elizabeth Jolly speaking to me about one of my short stories:

EJ: This is far too painful, dear. Rewrite it.

38 responses to “Auto/biographical risks

  1. susanpoozan says:

    Very pleased that you have received the support from many people which you thoroughly deserve.

  2. It does sound like you are receiving more support than grief.

  3. Vicki says:

    Spectacular love stories are really the best kind.
    I wish I’d experienced it once in my life. You are both very blessed.

  4. ksbeth says:

    the cream rises to the top – glad there is some support for you

  5. I think people shy away too much from the truth, including me. Write stories. Maybe some are private and not to be shared on here right now, or maybe share them on an underground blog that people you know don’t follow, or… I disagree with EJ when you rewrite it, sometimes it just becomes benign. Love you Julie!<3
    Diana xo

  6. Once again Jules, you show the world the brave, gracious and beautiful person within and without, you are an inspiration. Hugs Jules xxxooo

  7. Oh, yes … I remember.

  8. You are such a beautiful, intelligent and giving woman. I have a thought for you. Have you forgiven them? The people who were thoughtless and cruel (and still are). Have you stood in their shoes and watched you and Ants walk through that door and really imagined their fear and envy for their brother and friend? Your love story was not spectacular at the beginning, (not unusual for a 42 yr old to fall for an 18 yr old and vice versa) what is spectacular is it’s longevity and tenacity. That you created a lasting love over these many years. But they could not see that then. They were wrong with their words, they began a feud, they made a terrible mistake underestimating you. I feel sorry for them. Ants joined forces with you against them and they had known him for 42 years before you came along. But have you forgiven them for beginning this.? Because when you CAN sit in their shoes, and see how they felt without your rightfully hurt feelings getting in the way, THEN you can write their story and your story and Anthony’s story from that day. Then you will be able to forgive them. Forgiveness is glory. Then Ms Jolly would not send it back for a rewrite. The pain will be shown as ordinary stupid human nature.

    • jmgoyder says:

      Thank you so much for this, Cecilia. Until recently I thought I had forgiven because, as you say, forgiveness is glory. The fear and shock that was sparked by hearing Anthony was near death somehow brought back some memories and I became furious, then terribly anxious that Anthony actually was on the brink of death. Of course he is, like all of us, going to die and I know that, for those who don’t see him as often as I do, his appearance can be a shock. The story I wrote for Elizabeth Jolley was about a terribly disabled person I was looking after at the time (in my job). I think what she meant was that I needed to write something beautiful into this otherwise thoroughly tragic story and eventually I did. So perhaps now, that advice, coupled with yours here, will help me to write all of the bits of this love story with integrity and compassion. You are the best! Julie xxx

  9. Trisha says:

    I’m glad to hear you are receiving support and I hope you keep going with the story!

  10. judyrutrider says:

    You are brave to risk the criticism of those you love; but it sounds like you have been doing it your entire life. I suspect that by now, the criticism has turned to grudging respect.

  11. Rhonda says:

    I find myself genuinely surprised with Ms. Jolly’s advice. For myself, the very fact that something is that painful is the reason it should be written. Catharsis for the writer perhaps…but more so…a door through which someone in like pain and/or circumstance can enter without fear of judgement and maybe even hope in knowing they are not alone.

  12. Judy says:

    I couldn’t ever have imagined writing about my pain someday. But when I did, it was such a release because I kept carrying that story in my mind. The hardest story I ever wrote was the one about my young son’s death. Certainly, it was hard for other’s to read. But it freed me.
    Not sure if it could work that way for you. I am sad that you (and Anthony) had to deal with so much judgement and criticism from other people. It was your life to live and you were absolutely entitled to make choices about that. The best stories have beautiful parts and tragic ones. Your story is still being written. Feel free to write it all!

  13. Amy says:

    Keep the stories coming. You are a fantastic writer and I love reading them.

  14. I love the comments this post has evoked. And I love this love story.

  15. tootlepedal says:

    Keep writing… if you wouldn’t. You are a writer.

  16. dogdaz says:

    Write it! To heck with those that don’t get it. Surround yourself with those that do.

  17. Many things are risky and it can take some courage to face the risk head on, so keep writing, as I like the way you write, just saying

  18. Many of our stories if written truthfully would be R-rated for the pain.

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