My next book is a departure and a risk. If you want to understand why, read the goal of my life explained.
I’ve been asking questions about fathers and sons my entire life, which makes it no surprise I’ve had a difficult relationship with my father. He is not an easy man to know, but as a child I didn’t know this. And as it is with all families, you can only see your family for what it is once you leave it and look back. It wasn’t until my twenties, when I moved away and started my own life, that I began to understand both myself and my father and began the work of unpacking our relationship, as broken as it was. So many of the feelings I had about myself weren’t really mine, but feelings I learned to have to try and fit into his world.
My next book, titled The Ghost of My Father, is about this relationship. Particularly the events of the last two years where he, at the age of 70, has chosen to abandon his family. It seems he was never quite happy with his life, or with us, observations he never shared until this last chapter where he tried to move away and start a new life. He had an affair once before while I was a child, with disastrous consequences for the family. And now I find waves of memories, feelings and thoughts from that time have been brought back to the present, memories and feelings that demand being reckoned with.
We think memory is stable, but all my memories of my childhood have shifted dramatically. Different stories from my past now seem far more important, and ones I thought were important now don’t seem to matter at all. I’ve returned to my journals, sifting through to look for more insight into why these memories are with me now, and others are not.
“Memory seems to be an independent creature inspired by event, not faithful to it. Maybe memory is what the mind does with it’s free time, decorating itself. Maybe it’s like cave paintings. The thing is, I’m old enough now to know that the past is every bit as unpredictable as the future, and that memory, mine anyway, is not a faithful recording of anything, and truth is not an absolute.” – Abigail Thomas, Thinking About Memoir
Last night I watched the film The Return, about a father who returns to his two young boys from a mysterious ten year disappearance. There was something epic about the tones of the film and how fathers factor in many children’s minds as a powerful, ambiguous, possibly unknowable creatures. Certainly not all fathers are like this, but many are. And few of us have the courage to dig into the hard ground of our childhoods, despite our disappointments with our parents, to sort out who we are and who we want to be now that we’re not children anymore.
This 6th book will be my most personal one so far.
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- If you’re interested in this book, leave a brief comment (“I’m interested – go Scott!” works fine). I’ll be in touch as the book develops and is published. This blog won’t be shifting to be primarily about this project, so leaving a comment makes it easy to stay in touch with you.
- And of course films, books, and other stories you recommend I read are welcome too.
- If you have a related story to share about your relationship with your father, good or bad, I’d be grateful if you left a comment or sent me an email.