Donna Meredith Interviews Pat MacEnulty

Donna Meredith

DM:  Though you’ve written novels, short stories, plays, and poetry, Wait Until Tomorrow is your first memoir. How did the writing process differ for you?

PM:  I’ve written a lot of personal essays and poetry, and in many ways this was an extension of those. In fact, I’d had a personal essay published in The Sun Magazine that was the genesis for this piece. I supposed the biggest difference is that this book was written in a more piece-meal style. I did try to keep the same sort of dramatic arc that would be in novel, however.

DM:  Did you write the different sections in order or reorder them later?

PM:  No, not really.  Some pieces of the book were written over many years. Some parts were originally poems. There was a lot of assemblage.

DM:  Did you know what your beginning and ending scenes would be as you started to write?

PM:  No, I didn’t. In fact, the beginning was different when I first sent it to my editor. I had included a short piece that was published in the Sun-Sentinel Sunday magazine many years ago, but the editor didn’t like it, so I found a longer essay and used that instead. I had no idea at the beginning of the process how the book would end. I was worried about that. Would it end with the death of my mother? I was so grateful when I realized we needed to put on an encore performance of the requiem. I knew that would be the best way to end (and begin) the book.

DM:  What advice would you give to caretakers?

PM:  Practice instant forgiveness. Forgive yourself. Forgive them. Forgive all the well-meaning people who simply have no idea what you are going through.

Pat MacEnulty

DM:  As your daughter has grown older, do you think she understands and maybe even appreciates what you did for your mother?

PM:  I am sure she does. She has read the book and loves it.

DM:  Is your daughter still involved in theater?

PM:  I think she will always be involved in performance somehow, but these days her interests lean more toward dance and even performance management.

DM:  Did your mother pass away? If so, before or after the memoir was published? Did she read it or did you read parts of it to her?

PM:  The memoir came out in May 2011. My mother died on June 18, 2011. She did get to see the book, and she was thrilled. Of course, she was not able to read by that time, but she was always so proud of anything her children accomplished. She’d carry the book around and show it to any and every one. It was quite sweet.  I gave a reading from the book the day after she died in Tallahassee. That helped me cope with the grief. I still miss her.

DM:  What are you working on now?

PM:  Well, I’m working on my house. Oh, you mean writing. I am working on a book I’ve been developing for quite a while now called Heart to Heart: The Art of Transformative Writing. Writing has been transformative for me, and I believe ultimately that’s why many of us write. This book is based on my blog and my workshops.

DM:  What do interviewers never ask you that you wish they would?

PM:  You know, it’s such an honor to actually be in a position that people want to interview you that I don’t  have an answer for this question. It’s wonderful when someone has read your book and when they actually get it — as you have done. It’s a great feeling of connection.

DM:  Are you still teaching? If yes, describe.

I am still teaching at Johnson & Wales, and no, I can’t cook, but one of these days I’ll get one of my students to teach me. I’m delighted to be teaching creative writing, journalism, film, and communication courses there. I also give workshops when I can. For instance, I’m teaching creative nonfiction for the North Carolina Writers Network this summer. My goal is to offer a transformative writing workshop on a cruise ship!

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