Florence is the protagonist of my novel. She's single-minded, opinionated, strong-willed, and a nonconformist. She's also my grandmother, or who I imagined my grandmother to be. I wasn't alive when she died and there are very few pictures of her. I don't know much about my grandmother, except she had a wicked sense of humor, loved to tease, and was the life of the party.
She also lived in the Japanese Internment Camps during World War II and that's where my novel takes place.
On Saturday, I took a trip out to visit her grave. Something within me said, "Go visit her. Now." So I did. In my book, Florence wears an iris necklace, so I thought it appropriate to bring my grandmother irises. I have no idea if she liked irises, but I figured she wouldn't mind some fresh flowers on her grave.
Visiting her was surreal. I haven't visited her grave since I started the novel. I felt closer to her more than I ever have. And as I write this, that feeling only gets stronger.
What's the status of my novel? It's in major revision mode. Like, overhaul it almost completely. The agent who was interested in it eventually said, "No thank you. But I really like Florence. She's a very good protagonist." So I'm changing things (a lot of things) and it feels really really good. It's a much different story than I originally intended, but every time I think about the changes ahead I get giddy. Real giddy.
But Florence will be staying the same. Her essence is embedded throughout and I'm determined to keep it that way. I think my grandma would appreciate that.
Do you ever feel oddly close to your ancestors?
Are you active in your own family history research?