Reaching backwards is hard. I recently started writing a book called Four Fathers, based (loosely in some spots, tightly in others) on the four men that influenced the man I am today. They are my biological father, to whom I was Junior; my step father, who gave me a new name; my wife’s father, who disappeared after her conception; and my wife’s stepfather, who gave her a new name.
In writing the first chapter, I noticed that I couldn’t just sit down and write a couple of lines here and there, but needed to focus intently on the story. Because it’s not easy to recreate in my brain. In fact, it’s painful. The story opens with my biological father – a very talented hardcore redneck with a drinking problem. To a little boy raised by his mother and grandmother, he was utterly terrifying. To him, I represented a failure in his life, not just because he left my mother, but because I eventually took on a different man’s name. I didn’t realize this at the time, I just knew that when I heard the ice clinking on the bottom of a glass, that bad things were going to happen.
I’ve outlined the flow of the book, and don’t have nearly the apprehension about the other sections (yet), but this one is hard to visit. And I sometimes use that as an excuse not to. Because like the rest of us, I am trying to balance what pays with what doesn’t, but might one day pay. Throw in a couple of kids, and a wife who works full time, and you see how time is hard to come by. But this was a good start – writing about the frustration. It’s a lot easier than going back into that dark room with him.