I’m a little over halfway into To Have and To Hold, and I wasn’t surprised when Dave told Mary’s mother he was tired of watching the way she’s been treating Mary. Dave has always stood up for Mary from the very beginning. However, I was surprised when I was writing today’s scene and Mary got into a fight with her mother. Yes, I know. Mary. The woman who doesn’t argue with anyone.
Ruth: Mary, this is so unlike you. I thought you would argue with your mother toward the end of the book. What happened?
Mary: I didn’t like the way she was accusing Dave of being rude to her. I know Dave, and he wouldn’t be rude to someone, not unless they said or did something to deserve it.
Ruth: Well, that’s understandable. However, this is still unlike you. The Mary from Eye of the Beholder wouldn’t have done this, at least not like you did and not how soon you did it.
Mary: I’m not the same person I was back then. I’ve done a lot of changing during the six years I’ve lived in Nebraska.
Ruth: I suppose getting amnesia had something to do with your sudden boldness.
Mary: Probably, but the way Dave’s treated me has allowed me to feel good about myself. That’s something I never had in Maine.
Mary’s mother: Back in my day, I would never have been so insolent with my mother. We knew better than that. Honor thy father and mother. That’s what we believed, and it’s what I taught Mary, but then she runs off to the uncivilized part of the country and lost all sense of propriety. I tell you what that husband of hers has done. He’s plucked her from the garden of civilization and thrown her to the weeds.
Mary: That is a stupid analogy.
Mother: See what I mean? When she lived here, she would never have called me stupid.
Mary: I didn’t call you stupid. I said the analogy was stupid.
Mother: There is no difference.
Mother: As if I needed another example of your insolence, there’s another one. What kind of child says “Whatever” to her mother? Is that the way people talk out in Nebraska? I just knew bad things were going to happen when she decided to go there.
Mary: You’ve never forgiven me for leaving Maine. That’s what this is really about, isn’t it?
Mother: It is not.
Mary: I don’t believe you. I keep hearing I didn’t save any of your letters. There’s got to be a good reason for it. What did you write?
Mother: If you’d have kept them, you’d know. I suspect that husband of yours convinced you to throw out my letters because he has no respect for parents.
Mary left the kitchen. She didn’t need to put up with her mother anymore because her mother couldn’t manage to be nice to her, even though her mother had no trouble being nice to all of Mary’s brothers and sisters. Whatever the mother’s problem was, no one ever found out. The woman was miserable and spent her life making others miserable. Mary’s best decision was leaving Maine so she could get out of that toxic environment.
Mary told Dave she wanted to go home. He agreed. They took the first train back to Nebraska and never looked back. They returned to their happy and normal life, free from domineering mothers who, in a sick and twisted way, didn’t want to see their children be happy. Some people create happiness wherever they go and others create happiness whenever they go. Mary’s mother happened to fall into the latter category.
Dave: That’s right. I said it. And to conclude the book, go into detail about how I make mad passionate love to Mary and make her feel beautiful once more.
Ruth: You mean, I get to write a part of the ending you just gave me?
Dave: Of course. I want to be having sex, not writing about it.
Mother: I can’t believe the filth I’m being subjected to. Sex needs to be out of books.
Dave: If Solomon could write his sexual experiences down in the Song of Solomon, Ruth can write mine. So Ruth, it’s simple. Use my ending and write a sex scene. Then put “The End” and you’re all done. Wham. To Have and To Hold gets published in February instead of March! See? I put you ahead of schedule. It’s a win-win.
Ruth: I don’t think so, Dave. There’s more to the story than the ending you wrote. I have another 20,000 to 30,000 words to go.
Dave: I don’t understand why it takes you so long to write a book. It really very simple. Take out all the filler words and you can sum it all up in two pages.
Ruth: That is called an outline, not a book.
Dave: I don’t understand what the difference is.
Ruth: A book should have a plot that is fleshed out with every scene that weaves in with a subplot or two that works together for a satisfactory ending. There should be character development where characters change for the better (or reveal why a certain character is the antagonist), and at times, the antagonist in one book becomes the protagonist in another book so that you get the chance to explore the possibility of redemption. A story should be emotionally engaging so that characters are memorable and–
Dave: Wow. Like none of that makes sense to me so stop already. If I have trouble sleeping in the future, I’ll be sure to get you to explain the boring process to me.
Mary: Just be glad you don’t have to write it all out. You can live it instead.
Dave: You’re right. This means I can focus on you instead, sweetheart.
Mother: Personally, I’ll be glad to see you go, Dave.
Dave: Feeling’s mutual, monster-in-law.
Ruth: Well, before we get into a full-blown fight, I’m going to end this interview. I don’t know if Mary’s mother will come around or not. Right now, it’s too early to tell in the book.