Life as Art

Wendy Hornsby 

A week or so ago, as I went through the copy-edited manuscript of my next Maggie MacGowen book and fixed gaffes and filled holes, more than once I found myself asking, Does life imitate art, or does art imitate life?  The premise for the book, The Color of Light, occurred to me a few years ago when I was clearing out my family’s house after my dad died.  

Houses are full of very personal, private things that the owners clearly did not intend for others to see.  Frankly, some of the nuggets of information I ran across I wish I hadn’t.  Nothing earth-shaking, and nothing as dramatic as Maggie MacGowen’s discovery of evidence for an old crime when I have her clear out her family home in the book, but a few of my discoveries were nonetheless disconcertingly revealing.  

Funny thing, when the copyedited manuscript hit my doorstep, Paul and I were in the process of clearing out our own house, getting it ready to sell.  Rereading what I had written not so long before about Maggie going through the same pitch, donate, pack shuffle that was happening all around me was more than a little strange.  Dejà vu all day long. 

I have been mindful, as I haul out old files and ribbon-wrapped bundles of correspondence, that one day my children will be going through the yucky process of clearing up after me.  Should I leave them some surprises?  A few, maybe.  But just a few.   

At the moment, almost everything of a personal nature is in storage.  Today, the painters are here.  Tomorrow the cleaners come, bless their hearts.  The day after that, we “stage” the house, artifice imitating life as we actually lead it:  messy, private, joyfully cluttered.

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