thank you, margaret mahy
Written by
Autumn Crowe
August 2012
Written by
Autumn Crowe
August 2012

Evidently, Margaret Mahy was pretty famous, at least in New Zealand, where she was from. I never came across anyone else who'd read her, myself. Evidently, she wrote a ton of books. I only knew her from one book, The Changeover, which I read 20 years ago.

The reason I know for certain it was 20 years ago is, that book sparked an idea in my mind. An idea that evolved into a story of its own that I've been working on, off and on, ever since. Oh, the first draft went pretty quickly. I attribute that to the fact I possessed much more self-assurance then than I do today. However, what still remains of that first draft (written longhand, alternating pen and pencil, in two notebooks -- only one of which I still have) is about what you'd expect from a novel written by a 14-year-old over the course of the summer. Still, the gist of the story is good, I think, and I could not simply abandon the characters, who I love. So I let it stew. Did research in pertinent fields. Philosophized about themes. Attempted alternate points of view. Worked more on it some years and less in others. Eventually stewing became fermenting, and now I have this 20-year-old literary gestation with multiple incarnations. The main character's barely older than that.

So earlier this year I said to myself, "Hey, it's been 20 years since I started this thing, it'd be a nice time to finish it." So I started a new draft, which sounded terribly daunting to my non-writer friends but not in the least to me, because I lost count of how many drafts I've been through long ago. And after a weekend, I lost steam. Went back to thinking a lot about, but not writing a lot about, the more current story idea I've got cooking.

And then, last month, I read that Margaret Mahy had just died. And maybe you think this is leading up to some kind of anti-procrastination moral involving the inevitability of death, but honestly, what reading about her death invoked was feeling kind of bad that I'd never written to her and thanked her for writing the book that gave me a spark of an idea that I still thought was worth pursuing 20 years later.

So now I suppose there are two reasons I'd better get to completing my story, round-numbered anniversaries being especially significant for no real reason whatsoever, and because now it is the only way I can thank her.

Let's be friends

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