“If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must be the one to write it.” Those words came from Toni Morrison. Her conclusion became relevant to me not before I had initially written this novel, but incidentally, while I rewrote it. During this process, I began to understand English linguistically and set out to tell this story literarily. In having now done so, not only have the characters shown me who they are, but the process and the journey to this version of the novel have also shown me something called sisu: I just had to get everything right about What’s in a Name.
The outcome of one showing another who he or she really is was well-presented in the following exchange, wherein Oprah Winfrey on her show was discussing with Maya Angelou a life lesson she had learned from Ms. Angelou herself: “When someone shows you who they are, believe them.”
“Yes, absolutely,” Ms. Angelou added. “A person says to you: ‘I’m selfish’ or ‘I’m mean’ or ‘I’m unkind’ or ‘I’m crazy,’ believe them. They know themselves much better than you do. But more often than that, those of us who don’t trust life say, ‘Don’t say a thing like that. You’re not really crazy. You’re not really unkind. You’re not really mean.’ And as soon as you say that, the person BAP! and shows you: ‘I told you. I told you I was unkind. So why are you angry?’ ”
Quod erat dēmonstrandum.
June 9, 2020