I know it’s not uncommon for a first novel to be at least semi-autobiographical, and judging by the sympathetic tone of some of the emails I’ve been getting lately, it seems that a lot of you think that’s the case with Waiting For Spring. Thankfully, I can say that it isn’t. Tess and I share some similarities: eye color, short stature, a tendency towards being a smart ass. We’re both avid Red Sox fans and both live in Small Town, Maine. I used my own ‘voice’–so to speak–for the narration. (Tackling the task of writing a first novel was much less daunting that way.) But the actual events of her life were in no way taken from mine. I sat down to write WFS over two-and-a-half-years ago with absolutely no plot in mind. I had no specific axes to grind, no confessions to make, no burdens with anyone’s name stamped in big, block letters to set down. Just thirty-five-and-a-half years of being a human being to sort through and a certainty that I had the talent to make something out of it.
I had been abandoned by someone who should have stayed around, then given the Someone who took his place a ration and a half of shit. Groaned about the minor imperfections of my mother, only to count my blessings when confronted with the gross imperfections of the mothers of some of my friends. I had loved and lost, then loved again. Shed tears with friends as they struggled with the heartbreak that comes when a mate has been unfaithful, and later thanked God out loud that it wasn’t me. Watched other friends who were too young being buried in the cold, hard ground.
I had known what it was like to wonder where my next meal was coming from when my husband lost his job, making due for weeks with mac & cheese and tunafish, grateful that there was such a thing as government aid to help us through the roughest spots; then grumbled as I watched people who’d never worked a day in their lives buying lobster with their food stamps. I had trusted people who didn’t deserve it, and turned my back on people who did. I found out what it’s like to not tell someone “I love you” in time, then vow to never make that mistake again; knowing full well that I probably will. I found out, too, that forgiveness works both ways.
There was a summer when it seemed everyone I knew who wasn’t in rehab should’ve been. An autumn when my brother was so sick that I prayed for God to take him away, to end his suffering; only to thank Him profusely as I watched my brother walk out of the hospital a week later. Moments when I looked at the ungrateful faces of the children I’d fought Nature to conceive and wondered why the hell I’d bothered; only to be followed by moments I couldn’t remember what life had been like before it had been blessed with their laughter. Dark times–even the happiest couples have them–when I had imagined what life would be like if I was on my own, single and carefree again; only to have those empty images blow away like ash when I heard the sound of my name in his voice…
So, although I can say that the novel is not factually autobiographical, I will admit that it is, perhaps, emotionally autobiographical. Still…I am not Tess Dyer.