Kids Make the Best Bookies, Chapter 1

I’ve re-written the first chapter of my memoir.  Have a look, and, if you have time, please consider some of the I pose at the end.

Note:  I’ve added the first sentence of chapter 2 at the end of this post, so you can see how the first chapter will transition into the 2nd.  I’ve also added below a new title option for the memoir.  What do you think about it?

Kids Make the Best Bookies:  A Mafia Childhood (another title option)

Chapter 1–

Until I found myself screaming at the FBI agent who tried to implicate my mother in Daddy’s crime, it had seemed a fairly ordinary day.

Munch, “The Scream” (image via

I’d ridden our school bus to and from the private, Christian (but madrassa-esque) academy my parents forced me to attend.  There teachers drilled us in the books of the Bible and in what they called the “Romans Road;” they taught the tenets of the John Birch Society and the virtues of a free market economy ruled by the eternal and unerring principles of supply and demand.  There, boys’ hair didn’t touch the tops of their ears or come close to their collars in the back, and girls were allowed to wear only skirts and dresses and “modest” ones at that, ones whose hems touched the floor when we were kneeling.  I’m referring here to the periodic, sometimes weekly, skirt-length checks that were carried out in the chapel just above the basement classroom we shared with tenth graders.

That evening my mother had cooked meatloaf topped with tomato sauce for dinner, and my paternal grandmother “Kimmy” provided a two-tiered cake from the bakery up on the hill, the same place she’d purchased them ever since my first birthday, though this time it was my sister Susan’s turn to celebrate.   My father had been busy on the phone taking calls from clients, two televisions and a radio broadcasting basketball scores in the background.

After dinner, I’d done the dishes, finished algebra equations, and studied for a chemistry quiz, when Daddy decided an outing for ice cream was in order—as if arctic on the outside weren’t enough, now we’d add the insult of brain freeze to the injury of temperatures hovering in the single digits.

My mother had reminded Daddy to hide his papers before we left the house—the sheets on which he recorded in careful columns the bets his clients called in—who had placed how much on which games.  We had a door whose top had been hollowed out and lined with tin—the same size needed to hold the folded papers.  Daddy should have hidden the evidence there, as he usually did.

Daddy with the kind of papers he should have hidden–

“Oh, Judy!” Daddy said, dismissing my mother’s suggestion, and adding, as he clapped his hands to hurry us along, “Let’s get this show on the road.”   With that he snatched his keys from the landing table, set his papers on the carpeted steps just inside the door, and we were on our way, Daddy in the lead, my mother bringing up the rear.

Descending the steep steps from our house above to the street below, we were headed to Sweet Williams for two scoops on a sugar cone, when the raid occurred.  It was a frigid February evening.  I wore a navy pea coat with the collar turned up—bundled against the chill.

It was dark outside, except for a single street light that brightened the cement steps, when a brown, unmarked sedan pulled up and federal agents jumped out, one slipping on the icy street and nearly falling, another grabbing Daddy and shoving him against the wall that separated our stairs from the road below.

As it became clear a raid was underway, my mother, two sisters, brother and I raced back toward the house.  The first inside the front door, my mom covered the incriminating papers with her purse, as we rushed in behind her, over-coated FBI agents on our heels.

I don’t recall exactly what the agent said who saw my mother’s futile effort to literally conceal evidence beneath a burgundy Gucci bag.  I suppose the charge might have been cover-up by pocketbook or some other crime of the coutured-handbag kind.

The actual adolescent screamer at her (my) madrassa-esque, Christian academy–

“Don’t you dare try to take my mother,” I heard someone screaming—recognizing, in an insanely surreal and close-to-comic five-second-delay, that the screamer had been me.  But after that my mind goes blank, and I remember nothing else about that evening.  I don’t recall how events unfolded after that, what resolution there might or might not have been.

But beyond my own later memory lapse and my mother’s obvious involvement in the event, most striking about that night is my overwhelming need to defend my mom, my forbidding, as if it would have made any difference, FBI agents from implicating her, my naïve, adolescent screaming, not in defense of my father, who agents were obviously after, but the urge to protect my overtly religious mother–still stunningly attractive in leather pants and mink coat–a woman who, by all accounts, should have been beyond reproach.

Clearly, I’d learned, not only from my white-haired and handsome, mafia father, but also from my Bible-believing mother, that good and evil are complicated matters.  Admittedly, this is not a lesson either parent taught overtly, but one I came to over time—trying to digest and accept the ambiguity of loving someone who did wrong in legal terms but demonstrated considerable kindness otherwise, and someone else who claimed Christian values but didn’t consistently live them, didn’t demonstrate the love of Jesus as often as I’d needed.  My father broke the law.  At least, several grand juries suspected he had.  And obviously my mother, although the seeming “good guy” in her woman-of-God claims of Christianity, also made mistakes.

But my father complicates the picture, for although a criminal, he was also consistently kind, generous, witty—the sort of guy one wants for a friend—great fun at parties—charming.  I knew nobody who disliked Daddy, no one who spoke ill of him. Likewise, I never knew him to bad-mouth anyone.  I never even heard him curse.

I think, it’s easy to forget that those who commit crimes, do so in a context, sometimes in the context of otherwise good lives. Those who commit crimes do so, also, in the context of family. They have wives and children, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers. Sometimes otherwise kind people commit crimes, cross the line. Good people do wrong, make mistakes.  Clearly, my father’s “crime” became a way of life—so much so that as a child I knew no other context—no other reality.

But like people, the past itself is never all one way or another, never all bad, all good. Time distorts. We forget, remember incorrectly. There is no perfectly honest and accurate recollection. And though I accept this fact in other people—that they are never all good or all bad—I still struggle to accept both the good and bad in myself– still struggle to accept the parts of my parents who struggle on in me.  I still struggle to accept that I might not remember fully, honestly, completely—to accept that I, like my father and often even my mother, might be wrong.

Chapter 2–

My father proposed to my mother on their first date . . . .

Would you mind sharing in the comments below both what you like and don’t like about this chapter?  Also, if you have time to respond further, I’d appreciate feedback on the writing itself.  Is there anything that doesn’t work for you?  Finally, what do you think of the new title I’m trying out and the transition between chapters?

Note:  I don’t recall the exact details as they unfolded that evening prior to the raid.  I only remember for sure that it was my sister Susan’s birthday.  In order to develop the narrative in the first part of this chapter, I’ve tried to reconstruct events as best I can based on details  recorded in journals from around that time.  I don’t have any kind of diary entry written on this exact day.  A few of the details from the raid itself I’ve gotten from my mother, brother, and two sisters.

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137 thoughts on “Kids Make the Best Bookies, Chapter 1

    • God, Renee, can’t tell you how much I’d love to hear more via email. Your insight into all of this is invaluable to me. And thanks again for encouraging me to start this journey way back when. Can’t wait to give you credit in the published book! Hugs——

  1. Hi Kathryn,
    I have read the previous entry and this one, and I think this incorporates a lot more of your unique take on a life within this dual context. I love the contrasting between your mother and your father, and found your comments on protecting your mother very moving. I think this is a great way to open the book, because it draws the reader in and clarifies the key players while still allowing the reader to keep them straight. (I can provide more feedback via email, instead of clogging up your comments section. Just let me know.)

    • If you have other feedback to offer, I’d love it via email or even here–whichever is easier for you. It may be easier to go into more detail in an email, but if you leave it here, everyone can read and benefit. I’ve noticed a lot of feedback builds on something another reader offers. So–either way would work–when and/or if you have time. Thank you so, so much for reading. I think you’re right about this version working better in terms of the duality operative in our home. Again–thanks so much!

  2. I like the idea of starting the book with the raid. It draws you in, makes the title (whichever one you choose) make sense and it also makes me want to know how it came to this. One of the crazy things about us is that we want to tell the story in order, but that’s not always the way the narrative works best (and for you where the order starts is also a question.) I think you have something to say in this chapter. I think you had something to say in what you presented last week. I would advise you to just write one chapter at a time and not to get too hung up on which number chapter you’re writing. Hash it out first and then see how it best hangs together. I’m really glad to see you digging in and doing it!

    • This is excellent feedback. You’re right that things can be rearranged later. I’ve tried to read as many memoirs as I can and notice how other writers order things. It’s usually not chronological–or, at least, not purely so. And thanks also for mentioning that this makes you want to know how this situation came to be–how we got to this point. I hadn’t thought of that exactly in those terms. That gives me a new insight–which is VALUABLE! Thanks so much for reading, Lisa! Hope you have a great day!

    • Oh, Jamie, thank you for this feedback. That’s what I need to know. Thank God I pulled you in. Yeah, I may have a whole chapter on my dad’s choosing and buying nearly all of my mom’s clothes. I suppose most husbands don’t do that. My dad had a good eye.

  3. I am on board here! I think the titles work just great, humorous while still making a statement.
    Have you had contact with the FBI, not that they would record the exact moments either, but what you have and what you can re-create is all most of us can do.

    • Great question–at least a timely one–as I just heard back from the FBI this morning. My request is being processed. God only knows how long it might take. Glad to hear this version works for you, Jeff. Great to “chat” this morning. Hope you have a productive and peaceful day, my friend!

      • It would be soooo fabulous if you were ever to actually get your hands on the FBI reports about the raid, so that you could basically have three stories being told simultaneously …. (1) Your recollection of the events (memories), (2) Your processed version of the events (reflections), and (3) the sterile FBI notations of the events (admissible in court “facts”, as recorded by the FBI). I could see how their notes could add a layer to your story that would clearly separate your childhood memories into recognizable “memories” versus “reflections” versus “facts”. I know it’s a long shot (all puns, of course, intended) but I do hope for you that you get your hands on those FBI reports. After all, they belong to you more than any other person, and you deserve to have them in your hands. Keeping my fingers crossed for you. Really.

      • Yes, about the FBI files. Love your thoughts on seeing this from multiple perspectives. Actually, I did receive an email from the FBI this morning telling me my request is being processed. God knows how long it will take, but at least I’ve begun.

  4. Um. Awesome. I love that you incorporated little details about the atmosphere of your Christian education/ mother’s beliefs. That is something that interests me the most of your story, Kathy. We too often assume that “criminals” are bad, that the God-fearing are simply good. Obviously it’s never that clear cut. You are off to a great start!

    • Oh, God, Tori, I’m so DELIGHTED this works for you! You know what a great writer I think you are–Miss-Anne-Lamott-like-lady that you are! I think the Christian stuff is interesting, as well. Especially in light of the extreme my father was in the opposite direction. Have a great time in Atlanta this weekend. Sorry we can’t be there. Hugs to your family from us!

  5. I echo the others! I think I enjoyed this chapter1 versus the other chapter 1. The other version was interesting, but this version really draws me into the thick of the conflict. I also liked how you started right off with the raid. Not pulling any punches. It’s engaging and crisp. More, please!

    • Okay, Jackie, glad to hear you would call it “crisp,” as I wasn’t sure about that. I feared there might be too much description muddying things up. What’s cool about this beginning is that I had conceived of my memoir beginning with exactly this scene a long time ago–if I were ever to write one–I thought. Thanks for reading, my friend!

      • The second paragraph, for me, was a little bit crowded with descriptive influences. (madrassa-esque, Romans Road, John Birch Society, free market economy). These are all effective descriptors and are important to the story, but for me, it would be an easier read if they came later in the story. At the very beginning, for me, I like something that flows quickly towards an overall painted picture of where we’re headed. These more in-depth details can come later in the story, as you will surely be revisiting the teachings (and misguided messages) that were crammed into your head under the teachings of your Christian academy. To give you an idea of where I’m headed, here’s what my edit of the second paragraph would look like:

        “I’d ridden our school bus to and from the private Christian academy my parents forced me to attend. There teachers drilled us in the books of the Bible and there, the boys’ hair didn’t touch the tops of their ears or come close to their collars in the back. There, the girls were allowed to wear only skirts and dresses, (and “modest” ones at that); ones whose hems touched the floor when we were kneeling. I’m referring here to the periodic, and sometimes weekly, skirt-length checks that were carried out in the chapel just above the basement classroom we shared with tenth graders. There we would be, with our knees pressed against the cold tile floor, every one of us scrunching down just a bit to make sure those skirt hems were touching the floor. God forbid that our skirts were deemed too short, and we suffered the humiliation of being scolded by the nuns and sent home in disgrace to change into something “more appropriate for a chaste child of God.” Skirt checks were as regular as the bus that drove us back and forth to Christian school every day.

        Then straight into the third paragraph “That evening, my mother had cooked meatloaf.” (which, by the way, is strengthened by the “topped with tomato sauce” part of the sentence). That descriptor pulls us into a vision of a simpler time, when that splash of red across the top of the meatloaf was expected. It was a fancy exclamation point on the meatloaf, and yet it signaled a simplicity and middle-class way of life. Excellent use of four little words that add so much to the story.

        Back to what I was saying about the second paragraph. For me, this is the beginning of the story you are telling, and what is important is that you are underlining the contrast of your Christian academy existence against the bookmaking business your father conducted, so for me, it helps if you focus on ONE thing (such as skirt checks) in order to underline how prim and proper this side of your life was expected to be, so that when you transition to talking about bookmaking, the contrast is sharper and more surreal.

        The details about Romans Road, etc can all come later, as you continue to develop the picture of what it was like to spend your days within the walls of the Christian academy, only to come home to a world where bookmaking was the usual and customary mode of existence.

        I have more notes to share, (later), but wanted to throw my ideas into the mix about the second paragraph, so that you have a contrasting opinion about details. I’m only referring to my “reading preference,” in that I’m a fairly lazy reader, and I like my eyes to be able to travel easily from one thought to the next, without too many detours (at least, initially). Once you have me hooked, then I’m more likely to be absorbed in the story, and I’m more likely to welcome all those detours as little clues to where we’re headed. Initially, though, I’m in a hurry to get the gist of where we’re going, so that I can decide if this is a journey I want to take. I want to be able to gobble up the story quickly, without having to wonder “what is the Romans Road” or “what is the John Birch Society” and “why is a free market economy important to this story”. Sorry, but the truth is that I’m one of those impatient readers, in that I’m always in a hurry to get to the juicy bits.

        Speaking of juicy bits, that first line has to be one of the best first lines I’ve seen in a really long time. If I opened a book and saw that first lines, I can guarantee you that I would keep reading. Super excellent way to get us hooked! That first line packs a walloping punch. One sentence, and it’s crammed with intrigue. We know already it’s a young girl’s perspective, that the FBI is involved (yikes!), that you unexpectedly find yourself screaming to defend your mother, and that your daddy is some kind of supposed criminal, and that if the FBI hadn’t come calling, it might have been an ordinary day. Tell me more! Wowza!

      • I can’t tell yoy how helpful this feedback it–both about the details to omit from paragraph 2 and the comment about sentence length. I always have been inclined to write sentences that would a little on the lengthy side. Also, I had been uncomfortable with that 2nd paragraph for a while. I just could’t decide what to leave and what to cut. And actually, I cut a good bit–but I think you may be right that more needs to be saved for later. And Sara agrees with that suggestion very much! Thanks so much for this feedback, my friend. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it! Truly! Hugs to you!

      • I’m hesitant to be too presumptuous about spouting my opinion, but thankfully, I know you are smart enough to recognize my words as exactly that … one person’s opinion. I actually learned something about my own writing during the process of leaving these comments, so thank you! Every little bit helps.

  6. Kathy –

    It’s absolutely MAGNETIC:

    The new title is a magnet — it captures one’s attention right away, and it hints at juicy details. The cover art for your book will need to support the engaging title (some people will look at the artwork before the verbiage).

    The content itself is a magnet — it just keeps pulling, and that’s precisely what you want to accomplish.

    The chapter transition is a magnet — makes me want to turn the page.

    By jove, I think you’ve got it!

    – Laurie

    • I second Laurie’s take on the new proposed title … magnetic!

      Even though I know the new version of the title doesn’t include the God connection (pun) that you had wanted to embrace within the title, what it DOES add (besides readability) is a hint at the humor that will be part of the story. How could you NOT pick up this book and want to read it?

      Most of us think of the Mafia as a menacing and scary and frightening thing, but by using the clever “Kids Make the Best Bookies – A Mafia Childhood” we get drawn in by the humorous tilt on a serious subject, and because the word “childhood” is part of the title, we automatically know that we’re going to be peeking inside the life of someone who actually lived inside the reality of a Mafia life. This authenticity carries an enormous amount of weight. This isn’t a fictional story about what someone thinks a Mafia life might look like, but rather, it is a memoir written by someone who actually lived inside the reality. For me, the humor quotient and the authenticity quotient make this proposed title a really good choice.

      • Yes, you have identified the very thing about this title option I don’t like and the very think thing that I think might make it work. Brilliant explanation of why! Truly! Mind if I borrow some of this language for my proposal? Truly, well said, my friend!

      • everything I leave in your comments belongs to you … you can use it word-for-word if you like … I would be tickled pink if even ONE of my words was helpful to you.

        and thanks for asking :-)

    • Thanks so much, Laurie. Great point about cover art. I can’t tell you how often I select a book by what I see. At least in terms of what I pick up off the shelf to look at. And how fun that you would describe this as “magnetic.” I love it!

  7. Kathy, our upbringing was eerily similar – minus the mafia part. I went to the exact same school, I think. :)

    This is a snap-crackle-and-pop beginning. It drew me right in and immediately set out the questions we all ask ourselves in the secret confines of ourselves. How wrong is wrong? Are there shades of wrong? If I go this far but don’t go any further, is it still wrong? If nobody catches me, is it really wrong? Most of us don’t act on those impulses, but your Dad clearly did.

  8. Hi Kathy,
    I love this beginning. A few things to watch for are too-long sentences. The part about you protecting your mom from the FBI is great, but the entire paragraph is one sentence. Also, when you are leaving for ice cream, I suggest taking out “when the raid occurred.” I know this is a memoir, but my fiction brain thinks, you didn’t know a raid was coming. by taking it out, the punch of the arrival of the sedan and the aggression of the agents has more pop. There are a few places where you use “when . . ” that creates a longer sentence. I believe taking some of those out and making a new sentence is crisper.

    Just my suggestions. Very engaging, so interesting.

    • Yes, absolutely. One of my favorite parts of this first chapter is that even though you begin by startling us with that first sentence (really gets our attention), and even though it’s slightly tongue-in-cheek and has a delicate flavor of humor woven throughout, you also dive directly into the subtle and yet so real layers of defining what is good and evil, and how it is not so black and white. We already like your dad from the very beginning, (because you so clearly recognize his charm and every day ability to be a dad), and even though we know you’re describing someone the FBI would call a criminal, we can’t help but be standing at the foot of the stairs, wishing we could scrunch that purse over to cover up the papers. By telling this from the perspective of a daughter, we immediately feel empathy towards this girl who wanted to protect her mother in this crazy and not-at-all normal day. That you introduce the idea of defining good versus evil at this very early stage in the story, you give us an idea that we aren’t going to be reading about a black and white story at all, but rather, one filled with many different shades of color, some obscured by the shadows, and some as brilliant as a noon day sun. I love that you put the “what is good and what is evil” question right there in the beginning of the story. Genius.

      • Actually, I think it’s this comment that’s brilliant! Truly, you articulate these things so, so well. It kind of blows me away, my friend. Truly. I am blown away. Thank you!

    • Also, (and sorry for so many comments, but it seems every commentor has touched on something I had intended to speak about, too) I wanted to say something about too long sentences. I am the queen of cramming entirely too many words into one sentence, so please believe me when I say I understand the painful experience of trying to break ideas into short and crisp sentences. I once had an editor tell me that I wasn’t allowed to write any one sentence that had more than ten words. Impossible. But in truth, we have such short attention spans these days, that we really do need shorter sentences, so that our brains have time to absorb each piece of information. By the way, by now you’ve probably noticed that this entire paragraph is one long sentence after another, so obviously I can talk about shorter sentences, but I am apparently incapable of writing them. Woe is me. My editor was not amused. And the book never got published.

    • Okay, you’re the second person to notice the issue with sentence length. Thank you for mentioning it. I have long had an issue with composing sentences you needed to pack a lunch to get through. You are correct, I’m afraid. And you mention of the phrase “when the raid occured”–EXCELLENT point! Thank you so, so much. Truly! I appreciate your feedback more than I know how to say! Hugs!

      • ah, but your long sentences are chock-full of detail, which requires the reader to slow down and digest the moments, and I’m quite willing to pack a lunch in order for the payoff: to be drawn in by full description and intense feeling, to linger over a fine meal of words.

        as a long-time editor myself, I would suggest caution about making judgements right now, about taut editing right now. Let your fingers fly with the nuance you grant us, Kathy. Those details, captured in a single word linked by other single words are the very thing that gives your writing depth and immediacy of experience.

        I’m not a fiction editor, so speak from a different perspective.

        Perhaps keep in mind your intended audience and see what happens?

        Also, I miss “God” in the title–it is an integral part of the story, a “long sentence”, if you will, that is fraught with meaning. No hollow words, just layers of life, which you lived.

        [And for ntexas: it is possible to have a mismatch with an editor–just like any other collaboration. (Uncomfortable with your doctor? You stop going!)]

      • Hooray, you like the long sentences. And I also appreciate the point you make about the detail that forces the reader to slow down. Hell, you’re even willing to pack a lunch to get to the end–how funny! Also, I appreciate that I may not need to make those decisions now. Excellent feedback, Laurel. Thank you so much!

    • Ah, thank you, Sandy. I know how you feel, but actually this has been amazingly clarifying for me. I suppose we all work differently. I appreciate your support, my friend! Hugs to you, my dear!

      • btw, since I happen to be writing a book (of a different flavor), I hope you won’t mind if I rifle around in your comments to snag a bit of knowledge here, or a helpful suggestion there. I can’t believe you’re willing to put your writing out there and invite commentary. Brave you.

        I’m finding the comments section to be ever-so-helpful. Obviously, many of the points being made are translatable to anyone attempting to write. This is almost too fun (except that it’s still work, too).

        I should be thanking YOU for opening the discussion. :-)

      • Please snoop around the comments. That’s why I’m trying to keep responses to comments, though some folks still send emails. I want as many as possible to benefit from what folks share here. You’re right, they apply to anyone.

  9. I really like it! I liked the other version too, but I agree that this one is simpler and more to-the-point. The only thing I’m not sure about is the title of the chapter. Unless you’re actually planning to include the image of the painting in the text of the book, I think it might be confusing.

    Looking forward to more! xo, Heather

    • Excellent point, Heather. I wondered about the title even for this post. Actually, I think there’s no way I can use it. And you’re not the only one who felt this way. Great feedback, Heather!

      • yeah, I thought about the Munch title, and the painting, but it just so accurately reflects the mood … it’s a shame you probably won’t be able to keep the chapter title (because without the illustration, it loses it’s punch).

        alternatives (although weak) might be OMG references, or even that kid from Home Alone. But really, the Munch scream painting is too perfect.

  10. As a reader (because I practice at writing, but don’t really consider myself a writer), I was immediately hooked, and really like it as is. :)

    Will you be able to use the image of The Scream? The reason I ask is because I didn’t connect “Munch” with the name and the painting when I saw the title in my inbox, and then, reading your new title, munch as in munchies came to mind. But I’m trying to lose weight so it could be my hungry stomach coloring everything right now.

    • So happy to hear you were “hooked.” However, you are right about the Munch allusion. Actually, you aren’t the only person to have felt that way. I don’t think it’s your stomach, my friend.

  11. I think that starting with the raid, diving right into the thick of it headon, is a good way to set the tone for what is to follow. You also establish the Yin and Yang dynamic of your very different parents that had a chemistry that worked. As for not blanking on what happened after you screamed, could that be due to the trauma you may have suffered when this shakedown occurred? It seems like it would have been terrifying and maybe your brain chose to forget because it was too heavy a load to retain? Just throwing that idea out there. I prefer the new title, but wasn’t it at one time the original title or am I imagining that? I also think the first sentence of the next chapter is both intriguing and romantic. I look forward to reading where this goes next.

    • Actually, the title I’m trying out here was the title of a post I did a way back, so you are imagining nothing. Love that you said the first sentence of the 2nd chapter was romantic. I hadn’t thought of that, but, yes, it kind of is. Finally, I’ve long thought it waqs trauma that prevented me from remembring more about this night. Again, I think you have hit the nail on the head! Thanks for reading!

  12. Kathy, So many good comments already. I have this to add: Title is very good (though not sure about the chapter title without the Munch painting). But title implies it’s going to be a funny book so please keep that in mind. Also, re the title, so this book is going to be primarily about your dad, right? And not so much about your mom, as she’s been taken out of the title. Correct?

    The only other thing I’ll add is that your story is best when you’re telling it like a story and not summarizing it, as you do the second half. Example of what I mean is, don’t do this:

    “But my father complicates the picture, for although a criminal, he was also consistently kind, generous, witty—the sort of guy one wants for a friend—great fun at parties—charming.”

    Don’t tell us he was consistently kind, generous, witty. Instead, convey it through anecdotes. Don’t hit us with a 2X4. Let us come to that conclusion through descriptions of incidents that show him to be witty, generous, and kind. Examples, stories of incidents that prove this are so much better and make for a great book. Otherwise, you’re just asking us to trust you, he was kind, without telling us why and you’re not giving us credit to discern this on our own.

    Keep it up! You’re on the right path.

    • Great point about showing rather than telling. How often have a taught that concept! NOw I’ve not followed my own advice. Gosh, my former students would love that.

      About the title/humor element. I hadn’t even considered the fact that this title might be promising humor. Do you really think it does? I used it as a post title as while back–not a funny post exactly, but as a kind of ironic-sarcastic comment on the ways my dad had us “participating” in the business. Also, Sara doesn’t think I do humor very well. However, my dad was hilarious–had a great sense of humor. I think the post I did about him and the automatic car starter was kind of funny–at least a number of folks said they laughed when they read it. When you suggest that humor sells–or publishers are likely to be more forgiving if something is funny (comment on last post) I wonder what you mean by “funny.” Just how much humor would I need? There will definitely be amusing moments in the book, but I don’t think I can morph into a humorist. Does that make sense, or am I misunderstanding you?

  13. As much as I enjoyed your first Chapter 1 opening, this is so much better for your first chapter! Absolutely sucked in right from the get-go, and its a good base for the rest of your story. Again, I’ve skimmed through some of the other critiques and it looks like you are getting some great advice. Can’t wait to see how this develops!

  14. I loved your first chapter opening so I was not sure if I would like the revised first chapter but I do! I do! And it does make much more sense to open the book this way—it lays the groundwork for what your life was like. I love the “protectiveness” that you portray of you for your mother and even though you have gaps in memories I think your readers will be right there with you for the rest of the book waiting to turn each page!!! You described the good/bad thing so well and you are so right—good people do things that are less than good and since he was your father (I think I have said this before so forgive me if I repeat myself), you loved him. Nothing could take that away and you allow the readers to understand that that emotion is there. I had to chuckle at the comments about long sentences….as you can tell I am guilty of that ALWAYS! Great job, Kathy—so excited to read more!!! Keep up the great—no FABULOUS—work!

    • So happy to hear this works for you, Beth Ann. I agree that it works better than the first version. And about repetition–you are not repeating yourself; you are not repeating yourself. LOL Seriously, thanks for your feedback. You have helped to make my day.

  15. Kathy, a few comments 1) This is good, trust yourself. 2) The new title is good too, but I think you should stop focusing on the title, you’ll know it when it comes. 3) Stop apologizing (as you did in italics at the end) for your inability to remember things perfectly. I’ve told you before that NOBODY has a perfect memory, just tell the story you want to tell the way you want to tell it, and your readers will follow. Write with honesty and we won’t question. We didn’t live your life, and we are along for the journey.

    • Good point. However, I don’t mean to apologize. Didn’t even realize I had. I just wanted to explain which parts were which. It seemed the honest thing to say. Maybe I’m better off saying nothing.

      • That’s what I mean. Sorry if I came off harsh. You don’t need to explain, because we don’t need to know what is 100% solid memory and what you have created for the flow. I mean, I suppose you could make a statement about that in an intro or something, but just trust that your story speaks.

      • Oh, I don’t think you sounded harsh. I was just trying to remember if I had literlly apologized. Sara says I tend to take people too literally. This may be another example of that. Yes, you’re right. I can do that in an intro or something. Perfect! Thanks for reading, my friend. Hugs to you!

  16. Wow Kathy! You have quite a bit of feedback here! How wonderful! I remember awhile back reading this chapter but it was different. Have you written most of the book and now going back and revamping it? Or am I losing my mind with forgetfulness? How much have your written thus far? I’m so impressed! Keep up the excellent work!

    • I don’t know exactly how much I’ve written. I’ve probably done around 28-30 memoir posts, but none is long enough to be a chapter. Now I’m trying to take what I posted in the past, go into more detail, and craft actual chapters. My book proposal requires that I submit the first 50 pages, so it’s important to work those out as fully as possible, as soon as possible.

      • It is time-consuming. One of my blogging friends said, she thought she could do it in weeks, but it ended up taking months–and I don’t think she was counting the time it took to draft the first 50 pages. Oh, well, it will be worth it!

  17. hi kathryn, I am here for the first time and I haven’t read your earlier versions, but this one here is beautiful. I agree with ntexas99 for me too, The second paragraph a bit crowded . I got stuck on madrassa-esqu, Romans Road, John Birch Society….. I too loved the contrast of the christian way of life and the illegal means of livelihood. This is something that i have seen a lot in India. very religious, god fearing people earn money by illegal means. And you are right, good and bad, evil and moral, are not really two ends of a spectrum but almost like two parallel lines and people are a heady mix of both! I must congratulate you on the first line too, its brilliant! and except for that one patch, I dont think your sentences are too long!

    • Thanks so much for taking a look. I’m glad to know you agree about that second paragraph. It’s so much easier to edit when readers opinions aren’t conflicted. Plus, I had questions about that paragraph myself. Interesting to hear you see similar patterns of illegality in India. Where do you live. I’ve never been anywhere but Delhi and Agra. At any rate, hope you will stop by again soon. Great to hear from you.

      • I was teaching a study abroad writing class that involved having my university students volunteer for Habitat for Humanity India. We interviewed families who Habitat had helped build homes in the Bawanna slum and then wrote about those families for the organization’s website.

      • very! but imagine how bad life in the village must be that people choose to live in the slums instead. Villages seem idyllic, don’t they? compared to the squalor of slums! I think its about the promise of a better future, some hope and in many cases just survival

      • Kathryn, I ahve trained as a social work and though I haven’t practiced much lately, I have had a chance to observe slum dwellers lives a bit up and close. The one thing that always strike me is that people choose to live in that squalor and filth. And when one speaks to them they are filled with hope, hope for a better future for their children! Most of them manage to send money back hiome for families that have been left behind. Lives are usually worse back home. It is very sad actually

      • I guess the only thing I would disagree with here is the notion that they choose squalor and filth. All of the houses I visited in the slums were impeccably clean and tidy. Yes, there are open sewers and terrible stench, but that’s because they generally have no plumbing. If the Indian government can’t afford or chooses not to develop sewer systems in the slums, this will be their reality. And I don’t, at all, think it’s their preference. I’ve talked with many slum dwellers. I just don’t believe it. Clearly, I’m not an expert, but this is my belief.

  18. Hi Kathy~~glad to stop by and read. (And I actually read ALL the comments, which I hardly ever do, not wanting to be influenced.) So, here’s another humble opinion.

    I love the long sentences. They flow. Your spirit sings in them. I know some people like to read shorter sentences, but I like the way your spirit comes through in the song of the sentences.

    Like many others, I think the raid pulls us in immediately. We’re fascinated, right there with you. I like that you point out its grayness. I find it very very interesting that some of your other posts give me the idea that you didn’t like your mother as much as you adored your father–and yet, wow!–listen to you defend your mother. It feels like there is something to be cracked open here, a deeper love or empathy for your mother than awareness has shown before, but heck, who knows?

    Thanks for sharing this with us. Don’t you feel like when you share something like this it’s suddenly all of our stories, in a way? I feel like that about dreams. Once a dream is shared, it’s no longer only the dream of the dreamer.

    For someone with nothing much to say, it’s probably time to leave… **smile** Thank you for this beautiful writing.

    • I like them, too, but you and I may be in the minority here. I’ve faced similar criticism in the past, so I suppose I’ll pay attention. Guess it’s true that readers have shorter attention spans than they used to. Love it that you feel my spirit singing in those sentences. I have to agreee that those sentences have a certain musicality.

      Interesting what you say about my defending my mom. I need to give that some serious thought. I know I was much more loyal as a kid toward her than I am now. Someone else said they found that part of the story touching, as well.

      At any rate, great to hear from you today. Can’t tell you how much I appreciate this thoughtful feedback. I value your perspective, Kathy!

  19. I loved it. I wouldn’t change it but, if you really had to, I woould include any detail about your sisters and brother reaction. It’s like they were not there at all.

    • Thanks a good point. However, a good number of the details here are ones my siblings remembered and reminded me of. I don’t know what else I can say about them. I’ll give it some thought. Thanks so much for reading. Great to hear from you today.

  20. The new title–HELL YES! Who could possibly walk by that on a bookshelf and NOT pick it up? :)
    And I think you accomplish with this (new) first chapter what you were initially attempting to accomplish with the title–presenting the complications and dichotomies of a mafia dad and a religious mom, and the fact that there’s nothing black-and-white on either side of that contrast… The details of the day (gleaned from similar days–that’s what we have to DO when we’re reconstructing) also set up the contrast between the “normal” surface of family life and the very UN-normal undercurrents created by your dad’s profession… The details may drag a bit in this first reading, but I think you already have excellent input about punching up this introduction. The contrast itself–the picture you’re painting from both sides–is a helluva hook to the book!

    I also have to add how much fun it is to be allowed to be an observer in this process of your own “book-cooking.” :) Regarding the flammability of books in general, my eleven-year-old informs me that his invisible dragon has to check out books from the “inflammable” section of the library to avoid having them go up in flames while he reads… Hadn’t realized there was such a section–the things Mommies have to be educated about! ;)

    Hugs! :) Kana

    • Book cooking! Guess that’s also what I’m doing here–developing one. I had been refering to “cooking the books” as in manipulating them. It’s both, which is even funnier, I suppose.

      Glad you think this new first chapter works. I have to agree that I would pick up a book with this newest title. I also think you make a good point about allowing this first chapter do for me what I had been trying to accomplish with a mere title. I think you’re right. I think I succeeded.

      Thanks so much for reading. Great to hear from you today, Kana! Hugs to you!

  21. Hi Kathy! Your writing is just so good. Not being a writer myself I can’t come up with something scholarly to say, but it seems to me that blogging your story has helped you to organize your thoughts for your memoir. I just cannot wait for you to finish and get published!

    Just so you know . . . I still am following your blog, although usually on my phone where it’s difficult to comment. But know that even if I’m not commenting I’m lurking and loving your posts.

    • Ah, so great to hear from you today, Lisa. I love to know that you are there reading on your phone. And, goodness, you’re right. It’s damn hard to comment on a phone. So happy to hear you’re excited about my book. Hope things get better for you as your winter approaches. Hugs to you!

  22. Wow, Kathy! Great revisions and lots of great comments so far, too!

    I enjoyed this as a first chapter much more than the previous version. Your first start was interesting, but not as captivating as this one is. A raid! How can you resist turning the pages?

    I agree with earlier commenters about the title of the chapter being confusing. I was wondering what the heck a “Munch” was when I saw the title in my inbox, and even when I saw the painting in the post, it seemed weak to me. Your story– in and of itself– is SO POWERFUL, and I don’t think it’s necessary (or desirable) to dilute that core with clever puns or plays on words.

    This next comment might just be me, but I found that using “Until” as your very first word grated on my grammatical sensibilities. If it were me (which it’s not– I get that!), I would rearrange the first sentence to read “It had seemed like a fairly ordinary day until I found myself screaming at the FBI agent who tried to implicate my mother in Daddy’s crime.” I know that the screaming part is the real zest of the sentence, but I don’t like “Until” being the first word! ;)

    Like earlier commenters, I also found some of the sentences too long and/or too descriptive. Shorter, snappier sentences will propel the readers to the juicy bits of the chapter, and the smaller details can come in later chapters. What’s that rule of thumb about commas? My English teacher used to tell me that a sentence was too long if it required more than two commas. (One was preferable, but sometimes two commas are necessary in a sentence.) Granted, I threw that advice right out the window and have been typing SUPER LONG sentences for years now. I also dodge the comma bullet by using dashes, ellipses, and brackets in excess as well. ;)

    Overall, I think this is a marvelous chapter! I love the tension, I love the juxtapositions, and I love how thrilling the actual content is. Page turner, indeed!

    • Hmmmmmmmm–now that you mention it, “until” bothers me, as well. I agree that inverting the sentence might be better–or beginning with the word “before?” I don’t think there is anything technically wrong with it, but I agree that it may sound off. Good ear, Dana!

      There is no such rule about two commas per sentence, however. Of that I’m certain. In fact, I used to tell students to forget they had ever heard that. However, I think you’re right about sentence length in general. I will definitely edit with this in mind.

      And, yeah, the Munch thing has got to go. Very weak, indeed. I totally agree–am almost embarrassed by it now.

      Thank you sooooooo much for reading! I love your feedback–always. It so consistently hits the mark! Hugs to you, my friend!

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  24. I so much more loved this version than the first! Two comments I agree with- show not tell, and find those FBI files to finish off the story. Or- do you know what happened to the papers for instance or if your mother got taken in? As a reader, I`m bothered by what happened which is good because it has me drawn in at the beginning- already invested! Great job! Can`t wait for more!

    • No, they didn’t pursue the thing with my mother. It was a fleating threat. Also, I have already applied to get the FBI files. In fact, I wrote about this morning.

      Yeah–the showing, not telling. I hate to have errored in that way, as I can’t tell you how many times I have taught writing students about this very issue. To have made the mistake myself is kind of embarrassing.

  25. I have absolutely no ability to give any feedback on technical issues….hahahaha! But the story it’s self? I love it. And I can’t wait to read more. I do like the second/first chapter. It feels much more personal. And much more about you and your dad and your family. Looking forward to more.

    • Thanks so much for your feedback. You’re such a great reader. I’m delighted to hear this version works better for you. It does for me, as well. Hope your week is going well, my friend!

  26. Kathy, there are 109 responses before mine, which could take me all day to read now, so I hope you will forgive me if I repeat something that has already been said.

    At first I thought you may have thrown the reader in at the deep end, with such a dramatic story for chapter one. It also seemed as though you may have not started the story at the beginning! But I think I see what you are doing…chapter one is a promise of things to come, showing the reader what the book is all about. I came to this conclusion when I read the first sentence of chapter 2. So, am I right in saying that chapter 1 is the teaser, and Chapter 2 starts from the beginning? If so, I love it!

    The new book title feels so much better than your previous options, although I still think that you should leave it open to a change, as the book progresses.

    Just one suggestion about chapter 1, you’ve written a lot about your feelings about the events of that day, towards the end of the chapter. All of your friends here at your blog know the real Kathy already, but reading it from a strangers point of view, do you think that chapter 1 should be total impact (no personal feelings or thoughts added), followed by chapter 2 beginning from the beginning, where the thoughts and feeling can be progressively added as the reader, (a stranger,) who is now becoming acquainted with Kathy, can relate to who you are, and understand your feelings?

    This must be so exciting for you Kathy, finally actually writing chapters and sharing some of what you have writen with your friends for feedback! xxx

    • This is a great addition to the comments so far. Sara says the same thing about the feelings I share at the end of the chapter, and a couple of folks rightly faulted me there for telling rather than showing. I’m going to give that some serious thought. Sara thinks there should be a progressive unfolding of my feelings about it all. And I hadn’t actually considered the possibility that the first chaper might be more impactful with only the action. You have said that in a way that is actually really clarifying for me. Thanks so much. And, yes, the first chapter is meant to tease, the second will try to return to the beginning. However, my sense of how to accomplish that is evolving. Chapter 2 is proving harder than I anticipated. At any rate, thank so much for this thoughtful response. It has actually helped me quite a bit!!!!!!!!!!

      • I’m so pleased that my comments have helped you Kathy! I agree with Sara’s idea of progressively revealing your own personal feelings too, and perhaps towards the end of the book, you could have a full chapter of “wearing your heart on your sleeve”, so to speak, explaining how the whole series of events has affected your life. I think that this would definitely have to be shared after the story has been told though. Hugs to you and Sara. :)

  27. Oh my … look at all the comments! And me without time to read them. Sigh.

    Ah well, I will still comment though this may have been said. I like this title as well … it’s catchy though I’m not quite sure exactly why. I like how you used this incident to illustrate your incomplete memories. Not in an “Oh I wish I could remember more” way, but matter of fact and honest. It’s so you.

    I also like that you toss out a harrowing event to start, then go back to the beginning, It catches the reader and draws them in. It makes us curious as to what you have to say next. Whether or not some of the blanks will get filled in or what else is to be told.

    I like it! :)

    • Thanks for this respone, D. You’re actually the only person so far, I think, who has mentioned the way I deal with the memory issue in the first chapter. I think you may be right. It is kind of “me.” You’re right. There are a crazy number of comments here–perhaps, my most for a non-Freshly Pressed post. Great to hear from you today!

  28. Hi Kathryn,
    I spent hours mulling about your blog site this past weekend and am enjoying the debate about writing. More so your story is quite intriguing to me as I created a new class for my HS students about Prohibition and the Rise of the Mafia. Ergo, we (mostly me) have been exploring the many elements of the Mafia in America and abroad.

    Just left a comment on AmblerAngel’s blog as I have followed her since the disaster in Japan last year. Since I lived in Japan for two years, many years ago, I am always intrigued by the ‘dark side’ of culture and society.

    So interesting.
    I look forward to reading more about your take on growing up in the fam.

    • Your class sounds so interesting. You must be a good teacher to come up with an idea like that for HS students. I bet they love it. So happy to hear you’ve enjoyed my blog. I know little about the mafia during prohibition, only what I saw growing up, all of it from a child’s perspective. But I hope you will stop by again soon and follow my progress in writing this memoir about my father. It’s great to hear from you!

  29. What draws me in is the way you begin your story with the event that is really the pinnacle of your tale. I love stories that begin this way, leaving you to wonder how the characters arrived in this place. The intrigue lies in being able to fill in the blanks in the following pages.

    • That’s a great way to describe what I’ve done. I don’t know that this is the ultimate pinnacle, but it’s one of them, for sure. Yeah, now the challenging part remains! Yikes! Thanks so much for reading, Terri!

  30. I love the beginning and the scene you created. I didn’t care for the analysis a the end of the chapter as much, but that might just be me. I would consider making this a short chapter and ending it with the paragraph that ends with the description of your mother . . .”should have been beyond reproach.”

    I think that sets us up nicely for what the story is about. I think the reader wants to discover as she goes along, the things you explain at the end of this chapter. But like I said, that might just be me.

    The new title has a humorous tone. I don’t know if that is how you feel about this story or not. I know you have a well-developed sense of humor. I’m not sure I would settle on a title until I was finished. Keep a list.

    I think you have a fascinating story, and you have the writing skills to tell it well, once you find your stride. For now, maybe you should just keep writing with the idea that it is a first draft. I made huge changes in my book in revisions. Get it on paper and see what you’ve got.

    You’re doing really good. Keep it up.

    • Thanks so much for such a specific suggestion. It’s very helpful. I think that the concensus is that the second half of the chapter needs to go. I’m so happy to have your input! Thanks, Christine!

  31. I loved every bit of it! You are a survivor of so much trauma. I am sure that being loved by both parents helped with that. I would love to read how you dealt with the public humiliation you must have gone through only because I believe you were a strong individual (absolutely gorgeous I might add) with a mother who stood by you. Am I right or did she fall apart? See now I have to read more!!!

    • Great questions, Susie. Actually, all I’ll say here about your quesion, is that you might be suprised which of the two was the better parent. Why and how that worked is something the book willl demonstrate. The story, I think, will speak for itself in the end. I suspect the reader will walk away surprised, forced to reconsider some of their assumptions. Thanks so much for reading. Great to hear from you today!

  32. Kathryn. Loved this! As you know, my writing is completely different than yours, and not nearly as literary, so I feel odd pointing things out to you that may have stumped me in my reading. On the other hand, maybe perspective from a novice…just your average reader, would be a good thing? I sometimes think I’d be a better editor than a writer. I just found a few small things that slowed or stumped the flow of my reading. Would you like to send me a note on my blog with your email address so I can write you a note? If you’re not interested in my two cents, I would certainly understand that! ha ha! Because it’s probably worth about two cents! lol Aside from all of that, I love the rewrite on this first chapter! I love the focus on your mom and dad and all the small details you share with us. When you reveal the door as a hiding place, I felt like I was privy to some pretty sneaky “gangster” stuff, while also amazed at how casually you share that knowledge with us. It conveys the normalcy in which you view it all without making an over-worked effort at doing so. You say it simply….and that stunns me; which is so good! lol I also ADORE the mention of mom’s purse and her effort to cover the papers. But your humor in sharing that….had me smiling the whole time I read it. I love your humor and your means of conveying it! Love love love that part! You are unique in this perspective, in your style, and in your generosity to expose everything. We view your parents and the contradictions of who they are, through your eyes. You are well on your way to an outstanding best seller! Well done! xoxo Julia

    • Great feedback, Julia! I would love to know more about what you think. I will leave my email address on your blog, but it’s also under the “contact” tab above. I think your feedback is worth WAY more than you realize. It’s also interesting what you say about the slot in the door where my dad hid his papers. You’re right. It was totally my normal. I hadn’t even thought of that. I’m also happy to hear you appreciate my humor. One of my other readers suggested I insert humor, but I wasn’t sure I’d succeeded. My siblings are all so hilariously funny that I always feel like the non-funny one by comparison.

      • It’s easy for some of us to be funny. I’m the comic in my family. But I think mine is a pretty obvious kind of humor. Yours is more descreet and subdued….maybe even a bit dry and I LOVE that! Almost cynical maybe. lol I laughed out loud and then grinned a lot. I will check your email and drop you a note. My remarks were pretty detailed and I saw somewhere that you were a writing teacher….so now I’m hesitating. But I will do so anyways. I don’t know if I could stand to be so open to receiving a reader’s input! lol You’re gracious and wise. Thanks for the note! xo Julia

      • Yeah, I suppose my humor is rather dry. Though I can also be silly–not funny–but very silly. I sent you a note. So if you find you have something to share I’d love to know. Don’t worry about my having taught writing. I’m learning as I do this that there’a a big differnce between teaching writing and actually writing something like this.

      • I sent you an email this morning with my two cents worth. Hope you’re not sorry I did! Love and blessings to you and Sara! Have a wonderful weekend! xoxo Julia

  33. I am new to your blog, so I hope you don’t mind if I give an opinion. I really enjoy your writing, by the way. :)
    The revised title and opening sentence are KEEPERS! They made me want to dive in and find out more. I also loved the contrasts that you use about your parents. What I like most is your observation that the lines between good and evil are often blurred, and sometimes people do make (criminal) mistakes in an otherwise good life.
    The one thing I would change (if my opinion counts for anything) is the use of past tense. While you are telling the story of something that happened long ago, it takes away from your story when you onveruse “had”. It could easily be revised by just dropping the ‘hads': “That evening, my mother cooked meatloaf”….”After dinner, I did the dishes” …”My mother reminded my daddy to hide the papers”.
    I hope my opinion does not overstep. I really enjoyed reading this, and I look forward to reading more.

    • Thank you so much for your feedback. You are absolutely correct about the overuse of “had.” And, I have to agree with what you say about my observations of good and evil and the lines being blurred between the two. So happy you appreciate that. I’m delighted you want to read more and can’t wait to deliver! Thank you so much for letting me know you’re reading, Rainey!

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  35. Kathy – I am so excited to see you’ve posted this first chapter. It was fantastic to read something that really threaded together a lot of what you’ve written on your blog. Admittedly, I haven’t read the earlier version that you also posted in June. I especially love the opening line and closing paragraph. Not just because of the complication of good and evil, which I agree with, but how you tie it into the distortions that time creates, that your parents lived, and that are alive in you. It sets the stage, demonstrates your thoughtfulness, and leaves me desperate to turn the page. I think the ideas your commenters have explored with you are spot on in a lot of ways. I wish I’d been here for the initial conversation. It seems to me there’s a tension in this first chapter between wanting to draw a map of the whole story, filling in the geographic points of interest along the way, and wanting to draw us in to the writing and your emotional processing of your childhood and family. It’s not necessarily a bad tension, it may be one that underpins everything you write. I just felt the need to articulate it and ask you how you feel about it. You need feel nothing, of course.

    Thanks, once again, for sharing, and for being so gracious in accepting commentary.

    PS. I saw a comment or two about trauma. I had long ago assumed that you assumed trauma was the reason for your memory gap, at least that night.

    • Well said, Rose. I definitely feel that tension. Have to admit it’s been a while since I’ve read all of those comments, but I feel inside of me what you describe. And I don’t know if that’s basic to who I am–or only basic to telling this story. It’s definitely true that I like to lay it all out up front–to identify the points on the map, as you say. I think that made me a good teacher. I don’t think it makes me a good story teller, and I don’t know, if at heart I am a good story teller or not. I can only say that the process of doing so challenges me in ways I’ve never been challenged before. I don’t know if that indicates a lack of giftedness in that area or merely a lack of experience. Maybe only time will tell.

      Great questions. Now I wish you’d been around for the original discussion, as well.

      • I hesitated to say anything for just that reason, Kathy. The process requires enough energy as it is, without jumping back and forth in that way. I don’t think the tension is problematic. As someone who’s even more interested in your emotional journey than in the whats and whys of what happened, it leaves me wanting to read more about you. That cannot be a bad thing. Reading your response, I wonder whether that is the very nature of memoir: trying to portray what happened, who you are and what you feel all at once. The more I think about it the more I like it.

        It seems to me that the challenge you feel is inevitable. And doesn’t reflect any lack at all. You have undertaken something immensely challenging. I hope I haven’t simply frustrated you. I’m moved as always. xo.

      • Gosh, you haven’t frustrated me at all–quite the opposite. I love having these kinds of dialogues and find them extremely helpful and energizing–motivating, might be a better word. Interesting what you say about the possibly being inherent to memoir. You may be exactly right. A fascinating question. Thanks so much for the feedback, Rose. It’s so great to hear from you!

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