You’ll Cry Too by Kay Mehl Miller, author
My best works leave the reader asking, “ And then what happened?”
Take my latest book Ring Around Reality: A Novel. The first time I wrote it 37 years ago, I came to the end, put my head down on my typewriter and cried and cried and cried. Why was I was I crying? I’m not going to tell you, but I bet you’ll cry too when you read it. I’ll give you a clue, though. The novel is based on my alcoholism— I’ve been sober for 44 years now. But that is me, not necessarily my character Diana Lossen.
How come it took 37 years before the book was published? Because I was intimidated by it. The facts, which I turned into fiction, were stark, a reality for most practicing alcoholics. My family of origin was bound to be impacted, so I didn’t publish it. In 2014 the last of that family died. I took down the hefty manuscript and spent over a year rewriting it, changing the title, some character names, and a lot of this and some of that, honing and polishing until I was awed by my own writing. In the end I bowed my head over the computer keyboard, this time, and cried and cried and cried.
Am I still intimidated by the book? You bet I am. Every time I do a reading, I wander what is in the mind of my audience. At my last reading, I glanced up after I read about four-year-old Diana’s mother throwing her child’s new red wagon in the swamp. I saw horror on the faces of most of my audience and later was asked how a mother could do such a thing. I knew then that people in that audience would read the book to the end to see if there is an answer to their question.
On the way through the book, my audience will find significant character flows in Diana, vividly described. Parents will hide this book from their children. I will hope that my readers will discriminate between my character Diana and me, and yet, I write about the things I know.
If you are wondering how you will know when your book ends, try crying.
Kay Mehl Miller,Ph.D. was a newspaper reporter, intermediate school English teacher a columnist for LGBT media and, eventually, a psychotherapist in Hawaii. Besides Ring Around Reality, she is the author of two creative non-fiction books: Talking it Over: Understanding Sexual Diversity and Living with the Stranger in Me: An Exploration of Aging. Her first novel is Love Comes at Twilight: A Love Story for Seniors. She has written two plays, one of which was produced by Santa Rosa’s Sixth Street Playhouse.
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