Communion Of Dreams


The stories we tell.
September 12, 2011, 9:46 am
Filed under: Alzheimer's, Art, General Musings, NPR, Society, Survival, Writing stuff

Saturday afternoon they announced a new “Three Minute Fiction” contest on NPR. Here’s a bit about the theme this time around:

Round 7 Rules

Your story must have somebody arriving in town and somebody leaving town.

Your story must be 600 words or fewer. One entry per person. your deadline is 11:59 p.m. ET on Sunday, Sept. 25.

* * * * * * *

Had a nice bump up in downloads of Communion of Dreams so far this month. About 270 copies already. I’ve really stopped keeping track, but that puts it somewhere about 32,000 downloads so far.

Which has gotten me thinking. After going through and preparing the manuscript to self-publish Her Final Year, I know what is involved in that. It’d be simplicity itself to set things up to self-publish CoD. Given that I haven’t heard squat from Trapdoor books about publishing the book since the start of the year, I’ve given up on that possibility.

Then again, I am very disappointed in the sales of Her Final Year, since we’ve only sold about 10% of what we needed to sell in order to just break even on the costs of setting that up. I mean, we’re talking only a couple of dozen books so far. Damned depressing, especially given how much everyone has said that there is a huge need for the book and how good it is.

So, is it worth it? Would you actually buy a copy of Communion of Dreams?

And can I actually trust that?

* * * * * * *

There was an interesting item on Morning Edition this morning, about a relatively new kind of psychotherapy in use with people facing the end of life. It’s called Dignity Therapy. Here’s an excerpt from the story:

The something that Chochenoff decided to create was a formal written narrative of the patient’s life — a document that could be passed on to whomever they chose. The patients would be asked a series of questions about their life history and the parts they remember most or think are most important. Their answers would be transcribed and presented to them for editing until, after going back and forth with the therapist, a polished document resulted that could be passed on to the people that they loved.

Chochenoff named this process dignity therapy, and for the last 10 years he has used it with the dying. And one of the things that has struck him about the processes is this: The stories we tell about ourselves at the end of our lives are often very different than the stories that we tell about ourselves at other points.

“When you are standing at death’s door and you have a chance to say something to someone, I absolutely think that that proximity to death is going to influence the words that come out of your mouth,” Chochenoff says.

* * * * * * *

I by-and-large hid from all the 9/11 memorials over the weekend.

I have plenty of experience in dealing with traumatic loss. For me, remembering a loved one who has died is important, but so is moving on with life. And I can’t do that by constantly poking at the empty place left in my heart.

I know that I am different from most people in this way. Or at least I assume that I am, based on what I see. And I’m not just talking about the 9/11 memorials all weekend.

Recently, I was contacted by a gentleman who was doing some research for an ‘online memorial’ site. He wanted some details on my father’s death, along with specifics as to his burial location and my mom’s. He was polite about it, but somewhat surprisingly insistent almost to the point of annoyance.

I found this odd, and did a little checking. Turns out this fellow is part of something I call “competitive memorializing” – there’s a whole online community of these folks, who just like trying to see how many such memorials that they can create. Not for loved ones, or people they knew, either. Just total strangers who they for whatever reason decide they should “memorialize.” Who knew?

And here’s a small confession: I didn’t have most of the information this fellow was wanting. It’s just not important to me to remember my dad that way. His body was just a shell – it was what his life was that matters.

* * * * * * *

Saturday afternoon they announced a new “Three Minute Fiction” contest on NPR. Here’s a bit about the theme this time around:

Round 7 Rules

Your story must have somebody arriving in town and somebody leaving town.

Your story must be 600 words or fewer. One entry per person. your deadline is 11:59 p.m. ET on Sunday, Sept. 25.

I have some thoughts on this, tied to the ideas of memory and memorials and the things I have said above.

Because the stories we tell are important.

Jim Downey

(Cross posted to the HFY blog.)

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[…] Yesterday’s blog post had a passing mention of the gentleman who had been in contact with me about creating an ‘online memorial’ for my dad, and how I thought that reflected a fundamental difference in approach to how we remember and honor people. Well, unsuprisingly it prompted a response from the fellow in question, who sent the following to my sister (text unchanged): Ma’am. The paragraph below is from your brothers daily blog. He has a right to speak his peace. I don’t know if your father was a veteran or not, but I am. If he was a veteran, then he and I both believed in the cause to keep our country safe. […]

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