Friday, October 07, 2005

About the Book...

Somebody asked me about the book. Understandably not my highest priority right now, but I've still got responsibilities and a job to do....

"Mom's Cancer" has been put to bed and is on its way to the printer. In a coincidence I can only compare to Charles Schulz dying on the day his last "Peanuts" strip ran, Mom passed away hours before my book's final deadline. Next question: will the book address Mom's death? Yes. I had time to write a page, very much like what I posted here on October 3, and add it to the last page of the book as a kind of coda.

I wasn't sure it was the right thing to do. My editor said it was my call but argued that it needed to be addressed. Other people I respect and love argued against it. After thinking it over for a couple of days--days during which I knew I wasn't thinking straight anyway--I went with my first instinct and decided I had to do it. When I created "Mom's Cancer" I resolved to be as honest as possible about the experience, and hiding the fact of Mom's death would've violated the spirit and purpose of the story. What clinched the decision for me was recalling that back when I began writing and drawing "Mom's Cancer," I didn't know whether Mom was going to live or die in days, weeks, or years. In any case, I set out to report the story. And so I have.

We'll see how that works out....

8 comments:

Lynne said...

I agree with your decision to tell the whole story, including the sad end. It needs to be told in it's entirety.

We all have to realize that we are all mortal, that our lives have a beginning and an end, and the end doesn't mean we've lost at life. If that were so we'd all be losers.

Your mom isn't all gone, anyway. She's watching the story continue to unfold, and I suspect she helped to nudge you into listening to your gut.

She is continuing to tell her story.

ronnie said...

I echo what Lynne said (especially about "Mom" nudging you).

From a purely practical perspective, unless you wanted to spend a couple of hours every day for the rest of your life answering snail- and e-mail asking what happened to "Mom" after the book ended, it was probably best to include Mom's eventual passing as a final footnote to the book.

It's still a story of triumph and recovery, and I agree that it was the most honest choice, if not the easiest.

ronnie

ronnie said...

P.S. My only regret is that I never told Barbara that I, too, quit smoking after reading the book and 'meeting' her. I was too afraid that I'd "fall off the wagon" and disappoint her, and I kept setting artificial deadlines ("Well, when I've been off the fags for... oh... 3 months I'll tell her."). Just another little lesson about not putting things off.

ronnie

P.P.S. It's now 2 1/2 months and I'm still off the fags

P.P.P.s I have a feeling she knows, anyway.

Anonymous said...

Brian, you absolutely made the right decision. Mom's story is glorious and sad and suspenseful and funny and true and right and real. To do less than provide the real-life ending would be to undermine your amazing work up to this point.

My granddaughter, who is nine, just had the experience of seeing a movie of a book she had read, and cried over, and loved. The movie left out all the sad parts, and she was furious. The sad parts are part of the story.

Mike Peterson

brian fies said...

Lynne, Ronnie and Mike, thanks for confirming my decision. It's hard to tell from the inside. And I confess that Ronnie raised a problem that occurred to me as well: it would be very difficult to show up for book signings and have to answer the question, "So, how's Mom doing?" over and over.

Ronnie, first of all congratulations for staying strong. It's hard. If it's a consolation, I'm pretty sure I told Mom that she had inspired you to quit smoking myself. She often asked if I'd "talked" to you lately and I'm sure it came up. So she knew.

Mike, thanks for your counsel. I appreciate it.

Dee said...

Brian, I just read about your Mom's passing and I'm so very sorry. I will be following her story and wish you and your sisters lots of strength and love in the coming months and years.

I'm sure you know how you've all helped a LOT of people by telling her story! I'll always be grateful that through her I was able to stop smoking after 43 years. It's now been 7 months and I feel that she's still helping me stay strong.

God bless all of you...
Dee
ps: didn't know if you wanted me to mention this on the Wisen or just wait until you're ready.

Planogirl60 said...

I know you probably won't see this, as it is such a very old post you wrote, but it was important for me to add my 2 cents.

Thank you for adding the page telling of your Mom's passing. It was necessary, for me. We all need to face the truth, we won't all make it. We can't hide that in some dark corner to be forgotten. For me, still surviving at this very moment, I cling to the memories of those I have lost. My life is far greater for having known them and to ignore their death takes away from my cherished friends and family. Thank you.

Brian Fies said...

Planogirl, I did see it (now you probably won't see this...). Thanks so much for your eloquent note. I really appreciate it.