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Posted by Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry
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on Sunday, 10 April 2011 in Uncategorized

This afternoon, while working on writing a speech, I decided to try to find a letter that I received probably 26 or 27 years ago. I was referring to it in the speech, and I knew I had saved it, so I went looking. I pulled open a drawer that had probably last been opened in 1995.

Here is the stuff I took out of that drawer.

Saved stuff

I didn't find the letter. But I have now spent several hours going through what I can only title "saved stuff." And the most amazing stuff is the collection of writings from so far back that they are typed on erasable typing paper; it was painful, looking at those pages, and remembering what hard work it used to be to write!  All that rolling in-and-out of paper. Correcting typos.  And then revising!  Forget it!  It meant you had to retype the whole thing.

I found a picture book text called "Grandma's Alligator"which I think I had shown to my (now long retired) editor, and he hadn't liked it.....but I still do.  Hmmpphh.

But the really interesting thing is an adult novel that I never finished. A thriller, actually. I even had written out a synopsis of each section Parts 1, 2, and 3---and I have to say that some scenes sent a chill up my spine.   And I had done research of the most grisly sort!  There are xeroxed pages—I remember a doctor friend got these for me from a hospital library—detailing the most minute charges to a corpse as it decays. The manuscript has a body lying undiscovered in a Maine cabin in late fall...so decompositon is relatively slow. And tension does mount! 

Could I go back to it and finish it now? I still like its premise and in re-reading I think the suspense holds up and the main character is believable, sympathetic, and interesting. But the problem is, she's a photographer. A housewife and mother to 8-year-old twins, but also a very gifted and serious photographer with a darkroom connected to her house. This was written back in, oh, probably 1979-1980.  A lot of scenes (a lot of suspense, actually) take place in her darkroom. There's one particularly unnerving scene when one of her children wanders (disobediently) into the darkroom and comes out holding a damp, crumpled image and says, "What's this? It's gross"..and what it is, is an extreme close-up of part of the dead body.

Anyway: you can see the problem. These days anyone with a decent digital camera can be a "photographer," a term which has little meaning anymore.  The mystery and beauty of darkrrom chemistry is long gone.

So I think my book manuscript will go back into its drawer and remain unfinished.

Its title, incidentally, was/is a photographic phrase: GRAB SHOT.

 

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Comments

Guest
ojimenez Monday, 29 November 1999

One afternoon I was driving along the narrow dirt road on which I live. Ahead of me was a small red car with two people in the front seat. You can't go very fast on a dirt road, so we were poking along. As we did, I began to watch the car in front of me. The driver was a middle-aged man wearing glasses, and beside him sat a woman with long, wavy blond hair.
I could see the man's face because he kept turning and talking to the woman, but I couldn't see her face because she never turned to look at him or answer.
As we drove along, the man turned again and again, talking to the woman. He had thinning hair and a kindly face. Everything about him, his gestures, the way he spoke, seemed friendly and affectionate: he leaned toward her, he smiled. But she sat without movement or response, staring straight ahead. She never once looked in his direction, and I wondered why
I supposed of course that they were fighting. The long blond hair suggested someone who was beautiful, or anyway someone who invited admiration and was used to it. I thought she might be arrogant and imperious, coldhearted, the way a beautiful woman, spoiled by her beauty, can be. I thought that the man might be her husband, or her lover, and that he was pleading with her. I thought she was turning cold to him; perhaps she was ending things completely, and he was trying to win her back. I felt sorry for the man, who was trying so hard to reach her, to save things.
We both slowed down to cross a little stone bridge, and once past it, on the straight, he turned again to her. I wondered then if I'd gotten it wrong. The man was definitely middle-aged, and the woman's long, thick blond hair suggested youth. Perhaps the man was not her husband but her father.
Perhaps he was pleading with her about something else: maybe about her behavior toward her mother, for example, or her grades or her attitude in school. Maybe she was sitting sullenly still, not heartlessly. Or maybe it was something else: maybe she was not stony-faced and implacable or sullen, but miserable. Maybe she was weeping and unable to look at her father. Perhaps he was trying to comfort her for a young man's cruelty or some other terrible teenage disappointment.
I watched them closely, trying to decipher the story. The man turned to her, smiling, tilting his head coaxingly. She still did not look at him. I felt sympathy for the man, making such a tender and dedicated effort; and sympathy for the woman, locked in such a paralyzed and miserable state.
We reached the stop sign at the end of Mount Holly Road, and the man turned once more to the blond woman. This time, at last, she turned toward him. She leaned over and licked his nose. She was a golden retriever.
-Roxana Robinson
cheers
(sorry for the lenghty post!)

Guest
Ariel Monday, 29 November 1999

I was wondering if you ever thought about turning your book, 'The Giver,' into a movie. I was just wondering, because I liked the book very much and I think it would be cool to go see it in the movie theater. My English class is reading the book right now and we are really enjoying it.

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