It has been a while and yes, I have missed you all dearly. You have asked, so I will certainly give a life update since last June's post.
July was hard. One of my dear friends died unexpectedly. When someone you have known for 24 years of your 29 years of life is suddenly no longer here, it really hurts.
August and September brought the return of a new school year. I have new curriculum, even more students, and have encountered many changes as this academic year has progressed.
In October and November I was taking two online courses to gain credits for educator license renewal in my state. They were sleep-deprived months, as I was also deep in preparation for musical auditions and rehearsals.
December and January were wonderful months. It was an equal balance of life and work, something I deeply appreciate. February, however, was a bittersweet month. You know how the saying goes: when it rains, it pours. But onward and upward, readers. There are always silver linings.
Which brings us to now: March. There is no school today, as we have been hit with another storm and my district called a snow day. Yes, the cancellations and storms are getting old. Today's weather canceled my weekend roadtrip plans, which majorly bummed me out. We don't have school tomorrow due to it being a district-level teacher compensation date, so I was looking forward to getting out of town.
On top of it all, I got a cold and cough on Monday, which I am desperately trying to kick. But snow days and sick days are definitely good for writing! I can snuggle up under all my blankets, drink lots of tea, and type busily away about Marilyn.
Shifting gears, I'm still in phase 2 of this project: updates on the writing process. If you recall, when I started Letters from Marilyn almost three years ago, I painstakingly copied then scanned every. single. letter. I have these scans backed up in various modes, including several cloud locations. That, my friends, has been a lifesaver. I can read and reread M's letters from my phone whenever inspiration strikes. Goals. Those initial hundreds of hours have really proven their worth recently.
Today I am linking eight manuscript draft pages. I wrote these just for fun as a silly chapter - I do not necessarily intend to include them in the final manuscript. But before you read them, you need a bit of backstory.
We are in Marilyn's freshman year at Augsburg. Marilyn wrote a brief, one page letter to her family on December 4, 1950 that was accompanied by a letter from her friend, Audrey Fraasch. Marilyn writes:
Dear folks - Just to add a little to Audrey "Z." Fraasch's note - isn't it cute? She asked if there was anything she could do for me and I said write home - so she did. [ . . . ] We have scads of new snow. A little wind and we would really have a storm.
First of all, I found this fitting for a snow day. Second, Marilyn's mention of it being "cute" is that it is literally written in pink and blue ink on a paper-thin napkin. The original letter is very delicate due to 1) it being a napkin, and 2) it is 69 years old, after all! It made it a challenge to decipher, as you can see below. The blue ink on the back bled through the front:
Part of the fun (and challenge!) of writing a manuscript from letters is how to use their original words in the letters and put them in a social context. As you read the pages I've written, you will notice I used Audrey's words verbatim as she is writing her letter - including "Got tired of pink, so we'll try blue." But the social context is my imagination filling in the gaps. I found Audrey's letter snarky and teasing, which implied the setting should be light-hearted and upbeat. Indeed, Audrey begins her letter this way, seen in the pink above (if you can read it!): “Dear Solbergs - Tonight Marilyn is in two moods, 'fancy' and 'cheap:' too fancy to write herself and too cheap to give me any more than a napkin, salvaged from an ice cream bar, to write for her to you.”
Milla P. Thompson, if you recall from my earliest updates, was the dorm headmistress.
As you read this "just for fun" excerpt, I encourage you to look at these original letter images in this post. Here are the pages. I hope today's longer post and manuscript pages make up for a quiet eight months. You can understand, dear readers, why Letters from Marilyn was gently set aside, but know that it is always on my mind.