Friday, November 23, 2007

I’m thankful for my great grandmother. Or was it just a coincidence?

by Michael Dymmoch

Yesterday was Thank You day, and I hope everyone got thanked for something. I was thanked for being a good mom, and for having dinner at my house. I’m thankful to my family and friends for coming. (It was a lot of work to clean the house and cook—which I’d have to do anyway—but the jobs seem more rewarding if you’re sharing.)

Most of what I’m most thankful for, I try to mention as life goes along. My friends—especially the writers (I was an ugly duckling until I discovered other writers—we’re all ugly ducklings. They’ve showed me we’re all something else as well.), my editor, my readers, and all the people who do work for me--door persons, building engineers, cleaning staff, the people at the Book Bin and the Northbrook Post Offfice--Downtown Station. I'm also thankful for great books and great writers, for Charley Rose, Tavis Smiley, Oprah...

I’m thankful my mother taught me that two wrongs don’t make a right. And to keep asking myself, how would you feel if...? And that people need love most when they deserve it least.

I’m thankful my father taught me that if something’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well. And for building a floor to ceiling bookshelf for mom’s books before he even finished building our house. (Now that the house is gone, I have the bookshelf to remind me of my dad.)

I’m thankful for my maternal grandmother who read to me every day until I learned to read for myself. And to my maternal great grandmother, who was such a compulsive reader she often got in trouble for reading when she should have been working

I’m thankful to my former husband for a number of things, mostly for our terrific son. Which brings me around to coincidence...

It was just a coincidence that we ever met. I was job hunting, with a list of places I planned to apply. I started with the company closest to my house, got the job, and stopped looking. I wasn’t looking for a husband or even a relationship. I’d planned to earn some money and go back to school. But on the job I met a man...

It was a coincidence that my grandparents ever met—on a cruise ship, going to Europe.

By coincidence (or really good luck), I’ve had some of the best teachers on the planet—even at schools that weren’t known for writing or philosophy or the things those teachers taught me.

Mystery writers are only allowed one coincidence per book. And it better be early on. And the book better be pretty damn compelling or it’ll get reviews like “The solid, sometimes tedious but always believable details of Thinnes’s investigation of a series of arson murders serves as ballast for some heavy coincidences that ground the plot.” ( Publishers Weekly on Incendiary Designs)

But in real life things you could never put in a book happen all the time.


Sara Paretsky said...

A beautiful post, MIchael, like so many of yours. And yes, life gets a free pass on so much of what we're not allowed to do in fiction. When I used to work at the CNA downtown, one of my co-workers, who was studying theater in the evenings, said our office could never be shown on TV because everyone overacted all the time.

Barbara D'Amato said...

Great post. I am thankful for your friendship, Michael, and Sara's, and the blogpersons. And you are so right that writer friends are something to be thanksful for.