Fact or Fiction

Dear Readers:

Before my real-life heroine mother-in-law died, we spent hours discussing our plan to tell the world her life story. The first challenge: paring down the time frame. The first book couldn’t encompass her life, start to finish, especially because the finish part hadn’t happened at the time. So we agreed to start with the night she decided to leave town and end with her refuge at her friend’s aunt’s and uncle’s place in Washington State. I continued to struggle with her reason for leaving at all. “Why did you decide to hitchhike all over the country?” The answer “I don’t know” from her wasn’t very enlightening. Out of necessity and class deadlines for explaining my protagonist’s goal, motivation and conflict, I started imagining a plot with some pizzazz. I decided she ran away from a forced marriage, seeking fame, fortune and romance. During the process, she met, fell in love with, and eventually married a decent man – something that alluded her through her first three nuptials. Her fourth and final knot-tieing, which spanned twenty-five years, was “iffy” at best. A marriage made in heaven it was not. She was pleased that a happy marriage would happen in her fictional life. And I think it was at this point I made an authorial leap from the truth of memoir to the embellishment of historically based fiction. I could only hope our families would accept some of the problems and resolutions I’d planned for her adventure. The plot thickens.


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