Yesterday, I woke up as I try to do on my Fridays – eager that this is a day that I can devote to my book. Truth be told, however, my devotion to my book has not been nearly where I want it to be lately. Often there are things that take me away from my Friday writing. Trying to write on days other than Fridays never works well.
But none of this means that the book is not important to me. If anything, it permeates me and weighs on me more than ever. I am not going to say that the completion of this book will define me, but I truly have a vested interest in making sure the story I am telling is told.
To go along with that, this week, on my answering machine at work, I got a message from Lew. Lew grounds me and motivates me.
To give a little background on the book and who Lew is, the book centers on a medical experiment. In 1949 a little girl was diagnosed with leukemia. Like all children with leukemia at that time, her prognosis was that she would die. The girl, however, had a doctor who was an idea guy. He had a concept for a treatment that was extreme, but grounded in science enough that the girl’s parents agreed to it. The experiment involved putting the girl’s diseased blood into a healthy person for 4 days in a row. At the same time, the healthy person’s blood was given to the girl – pint after pint; day after day.
An obstacle was that the doctor couldn’t risk giving the girl’s blood to a healthy person. He solved that by asking a prisoner serving a life sentence to volunteer.
These were different times, but the story and what unfolded afterwards is pretty amazing. I should tell you that the little girl lived shortly after the experiment, but she did die.
Lew is the little girl’s brother. When I decided to take this project on, I was lucky enough to find Lew. I still remember the feeling in my stomach when I first talked to him. I had no idea if he would trust me or think I was some phony. Who was I to offer up myself as a writer? But that is what I told him, and he accepted my mission. Since then, Lew and his family have become part of my life. He continues to share memories with me. This is as much his story as mine. The fact that he calls me to see how I am doing, to wish me luck, to give me advice, to tell me when I am not doing it right – make this real.
So… my Friday yesterday was different. I woke up in a little house, 600 miles away from home. I have six days here – by myself, to work on my book. I still am somewhat shocked that I am doing this, but I am so excited that I am.
Yesterday I read everything that I have written so far. Some I liked, but not everything. I then went back to the roots – what are the bones of this story? How can I best tell it?
And then I started writing. I won’t be finished when I leave, but I am eager to see where I will be.