Art and life and death – a collation of points

When I began writing Boralos in 2003, my father had just completed his first course of treatment (radiation therapy, from memory) for his cancer. The treatment was successful, he went into remission, he was vibrant and healthy; we all got on with life.

All characters are, in some way, a reflection of the author; I always saw that reflection in my heroine Dacia's strong relationship with her father, one where he taught her a number of important things, some outwardly and some as by-products of living his life. It was only as I wrote, and dug deeper into the story – her story, and her development through the rest of the story – that I appreciated the significance of her father's death on shaping who she was and what she was doing with her life. That death plays no actual part in the story, but the shadow of Dacia's father lies across her for the duration of the story, a key if understated element of her unpacking of her self-identification.

My father died yesterday. He taught me how to tell tales. How to lie, how to tell jokes, how to speak to an audience, how to chat at a dinner party. He taught me rhetoric and pacing and rhythm without every mentioning those words. My mother made me a reader, but he made me a writer because he was the one who showed me how to start putting words together with the intent of achieving entertainment and communication of more than just their face value meaning.

He will never see me in print. I know he was proud of me, for reasons that are arguably better – for being a good person and being happy – but he will never be proud of me for that. And I sort of wish I'd told him all of this, that really it's him who set me on this path, but I don't think I'd even figured it all out myself until right now.

I love you, Dad. I will miss you.

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