He Showed Me A Light I Had Not Seen
When I told my friend Katherine how sorry I was to have missed Anthony Doerr’s interview at the Writers’ Symposium by the Sea, she kindly sent me the YouTube link to watch it. And what a gift that has been!
I must have watched that at least three times! I have so many things on my plate that my viewing time is really limited. So, what made me want to hear his words over and over? My first thought was that it had to do with the new Netflix series All the Light We Cannot See. Overlooking the fact that once again a literary masterpiece has undergone unfortunate changes, I did enjoy the miniseries. However, only this morning did I realize that my unusual attraction to the interview stemmed from how Anthony Doerr’s words resonate with me. He had hooked me with, “It is astonishing how culture survives the ravages of time,” and kept me hooked by, “Everything that is yourself depends on you remembering your past!”
I look back at a lifetime of writing and see my own life as well as the lives of those who left a profound impression on it. I wrote Sky of Red Poppies for my children, an attempt to answer their questions on why their parents never went back to Iran, or what became of their dreamland. Then came The Moon Daughter, to speak of women who lived in a different time and place. Women who had far less rights and yet somehow are connected to those of us in the free world. To my delight and surprise, both novels were well received and readers’ support continues a decade later.
I continued to write and finished two other novels. The Basement and The Other Half continue to look for a home and now I am looking forward to February and the release of Memory Garden, my first picture book that will take our grandchildren through the glorious gardens we have left behind!
I wrote and wrote without ever realizing what drove me. What made me give up a lucrative career so that I would have time to tell my stories? Why do I sleep so little and spend more time and miss all the fun out there? Then suddenly, here comes a literary icon to tell me why.
“The most important thing about being a parent is that you start thinking of yourself as a link in the continuous chain of human culture!”
Parents in general may find it hard to pass all they know to the next generation, but it is much more difficult for the immigrant parents to make their words understood, especially for those who are cut off from their roots. That said, the word ‘difficult has no place in my personal vocabulary. I plan to use my remaining time to create a clear image of the past to be enjoyed by those who missed it!