As I continue to work on You Will Not Be Forgotten, each Wednesday I am going to post about something I’ve learned in the process of writing this book. Maybe it will be something about myself or about slavery or about history in general; I’m not sure. One thing I do know is this – writing this book has changed me in more ways than I will probably ever know. I hope you’ll check in each week to see what I’ve discovered in the process. I hope you’ll share your thoughts, too.
Yesterday, I realized I needed to add a great number more of the stories I had written about the people enslaved here. I am both disheartened and excited. Disheartened because, of course, this means another month or so of editing; excited because it feels right, good, true, more of what I had intended.
This change will mean the balance will shift in two ways – more narrative and more profiles of the people who lived here. Both of those changes will be good in that they will make the book more readable, I think, and that they will put the focus where I want it to be – on the lives of Lucy, Primus, Berthier, and the other people I’ve written about.
Today, I have been reminded, again, that the way we plan our lives is almost never the way they go – in writing or in living. I am reminded that it is almost always better to do something well rather than do something fast. I am reminded that life is, by all counts, an act of discovery and revision. I am reminded that flexibility and openness will keep me from breaking apart when change comes.
What do you do when your writing goes somewhere you hadn’t planned? What do you do when your life does the same?