I was supposed to fly to Burbank today to spend 2 1/2 weeks with a friend getting a start on her memoir. The Rochester-JFK flight had mechanical problems, so I would have missed my connection, so I’m heading off tomorrow, instead.
My friend was active in the resistance against the regimes of both the Shah and the Islamic Republic, was widowed at 21 when her husband died in the mountains fight for the Kurdish resistance, ended up in an eight year international custody battle with her – for her son that crossed three continents and ended with her basically just stealing him. Since then she has lost a job as a health and safety inspector engineer because she was a whistleblower and has had some other struggles that we won’t go into here. She basically talked to no one about her rather adventurous life for twenty years until my husband Michael, who had known her in Israel (where she had fled to escape questioning by the Shah’s secret police) stopped into visit her because we were attending a convention in San Diego and took the train up to LA.
Maybe it was because she hadn’t seen Michael in 25 years and seeing him again brought her back to that time in her life, when she was preparing to return to Iraq with her fiance and fight for a secular democratic republic to take the place of the Shah’s regime. Or maybe it was because she didn’t know me and I just wanted to hear her about her life, but she spent a couple days just pouring out this really remarkable story. Periodically, she would stop and say, “You know, I haven’t talked about this for twenty years.”
I encouraged her to write it down, and she said she wasn’t ready to. She also had realistic concerns for the security of friends and people in the resistance who still might be in Iran, but a couple years ago, she said she was ready, so I’m going out for a couple weeks to try to get a start on it.
Aside from being a worthwhile project in its own right, the memoir will help keep me from going insane over the fact I have an agent reading my Shea manuscript (the one loosely based on the Hosea-Gomer narrative with the gender roles reversed.) I tweaked a query letter for two weeks to an agency I have wanted to represent me since I knew about it, because of our shared political goals. From what I have learned from googling the agent, I can’t imagine a more sympatico fit. The odd thing is that I’m feeling a little depressed. A couple years ago, I would have spent the next month in delighted anticipation, thinking that this agent was really going to like my book once she read it. And now, there’s part of me that really does think that, because I think it’s a good book, and because with the exception of a couple readers (See my “Feedback” posting) my readers think so too. But then there’s this part of me that thinks, if she doesn’t like it, if the religious bits turn her off in the first couple pages, if [insert reason] what’s the point of going on, because there will never be another agent who will get me as much as this one does. I was mentioning this to a friend at church, and she said that there’s a spiritual term for it called “joyful foreboding.”
Anyway, that’s all by way of saying, the memoir will help keep me from going crazy.
Also found out today, since I had time on my hands because of the flight cancellation, that freeze-drying a human body and then pulverizing it would probably make it better fertilizer than burning it. And since the fascist regime in Shea happened to be doing that to its undesirable population, I was able to change that in the manuscript.