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Face-to-face

As I mentioned in my last post, we finished writing a little more than a week ago. Half the chapters went to the copy editors last week. The other half are on their way this week. And… drum roll please… we should have publishing news to share with you soon!

While I’m waiting to get the edited chapters back, I’m reading through the whole book from beginning to end. It’s the first time I’ve been able to do that without having to skip over unfinished sections. Although I’ve been immersed in every aspect of this story for more than a year (not counting the time I actually lived it), I haven’t been able to see it from introduction to conclusion all at once. The writing process has been like catching brief glimpses of someone you really want to meet. One day you see the back of his head as he walks away. The next time you might catch a flash of his hand as he waves through a crowd to someone across the street. Now that the book is finished, I feel like I’m finally getting to meet that elusive person face-to-face.

As I read, I’m going to share my experience with you by telling you about my favorite parts of each chapter. I plan to cover three chapters a week. By the time we’re done, I should be able to tell you exactly when you’ll be able to get a copy of the book for yourself.

Chapter 1 introduces three families that we follow throughout the book. You meet them on the Monday before Hurricane Ike made landfall. Although you will get to read dozens of individual stories throughout the book, you will feel like you know our main three families the best. You’ll learn why they view storms the way they do and how Ike changed their perspectives. You will walk with them through the island’s recovery and experience the challenges they faced as they tried to put their lives back together.

My favorite part of Chapter 1 is the sense of dread hanging over it. The reader knows the storm is coming and will wreak havoc. But our three families come to that conclusion slowly. They all showed a chilling complacence as Ike barreled toward them. I’m sure some readers will think the families foolish, but I sympathize with them. Although it’s completely illogical, Galveston somehow seemed immune from a catastrophic storm.

2 comments to Face-to-face

  • Diane thiel Madden

    Leigh,
    As you know, I was one of those who felt that Galveston was immune to total destruction. That this would be like any other bad hurricane and that it was reasonable for me to stay in the San Luis Hotel so that I could check on my condo, which was being remodeled, when it was all over. Galveston is my childhood home, and I live in Key Biscayne, FL now. I have lived through many hurricanes in both locations, including Galveston’s Carla, 1961, but that was a “wind” hurricane, very destructive, but not this massive surge of water like a Titan lifting up the gulf of Mexico with his arms and pushing it toward the mainland of Texas. I remember standing in the corridor of my room on the 15th floor of the San Luis Hotel Friday looking through the glass windows at around 3 in the afternoon, the winds were not yet even storm speed, but the 61st st. bridge was already flooded and so were some of the neighborhoods. I gasped and I realized then, this Ike was going to destroy in a way like never before–that it already had, and it hadn’t even “hit” yet. I thought about all the friends and family I knew and loved and wondered how they would be able to face this when they returned. I knew that my unfinished condo would be ok, after all, it was on the 8th floor and already above the flood zone. It was part of the San Luis, “Hurricane Central” and it had hurricane shutters. And on Saturday, I was relieved to see that it was undamaged. Sunday morning, as I finally was able to drive around to try to “check ” on the homes I could get to, including my own childhood family home, I did what little I could and then I decided that I would only be in the way if I stayed, that the destruction was so overwhelming that there was nothing I could contribute. I drove out of Galveston, over the causeway, to stay with my sister in Austin. As I crossed the bridge, past all the boats piled up against it, a singular car heading north, I looked back and and wept and wondered for the first time if Galveston was destroyed beyond repair. For the next 2 weeks before I returned to Galveston, I did what I felt would help the most, I volunteered for the American Red Cross at the Austin Convention Center to try to help all those from Galveston and the mainland who had been displaced. My contribution was a drop in the bucket, but at least I felt I was doing something to help. Why was I so lucky when others lost so much, many of them everything they had? My condo was fine and I actually lived somewhere else. All I had to do was to finish the remodeling project. How dare I even talk about the trauma of living through Hurricane Ike? When I returned to my beloved island after 2 weeks, the overwhelming heartache of the destruction was everywhere. I really thought it could not be repaired. But it was and is still mending.
    Every time I return, I am amazed that Galveston has recovered so quickly and so well. Tribute to its people. What amazing strength and heart.

  • Diane Thiel Madden

    And thank you for writing this book!