Tuesday, June 7, 2011
My Sister, My Reader, My Friend
Recently, my sister Barbara visited from Milwaukee. While in my home, she was looking around for something to read. I suggested that she start reading through our father's letters to his parents when he served in World War II. There are hundreds of them that need to be organized:
Henry Federlin's WWII mementos and letters
"No," she said. "I'd rather read your book."
"It's not in very good shape," I said. "Especially towards the end. It needs a lot of work."
"That's OK," she replied.
I shrugged and brought her a stack of papers.
Barbara Federlin beginning her big read
Up until now I have shared the premise of Half-Truths with the experts I have interviewed and with an handful of writers. No one except a few friends has read beyond the first fourteen chapters.
No one until Barbara insisted.
In three days, interrupted by trips to see our mother and to local museums, my sister read the entire manuscript.
Now I have someone who understands my purpose, who "gets" the scope of my story, and who has a mental picture of my entire book.
Now I have someone who I can ask if a scene should be deleted or enlarged upon, or if a character has stayed consistent from beginning to end.
She didn't stop to correct grammar, word choice, or tenses. She just read, and gave me the gift of not being able to put it down.
When she finished with tears in her eyes she said, "Good job."
That's high praise coming from my big sister.
The Federlin resemblance is unmistakable
Our father, who taught us to love stories by reading aloud to us when we were little, would be pleased that she took such an interest in mine.
So am I.