Friday, April 07, 2006

I've been struggling with my 'ded and ack' this week - the dedications and acknowledgements for my novel, Tell Me Everything. It seems to be unusual not to dedicate a book to anyone these days, (and I know I want to dedicate it to my dad, because he's the real writer in the family and also the book features a completely horrible father who is so different from mine it's not true, and I'd hate anyone to think it's autobiographical) but it's a bit like an Oscar speech. Try to say what you really feel, and you sound all slushy and pink-dressed when it's read in the cold light of day.

When I wrote Something Beginning With I knew I wanted to dedicate it to my girlfriends because I'd set out to write a book for them in my mind, all the things we would laugh at and cry at and moan about if we were talking. However, I learnt a lesson there in that I missed out one friend - my best mate at school, Nicky, who I wasn't in touch with any more. As soon as the book came out, I knew I'd made a mistake and that Nicky should have been there, because hers was probably my most important friendship and certainly one which made me who I am.

So I don't want to rush this dedication. Trouble is a simple 'To my Father' could be taken either in the spirit of a thank-you, or as a sarcastic fore-note to an expose. I wanted to put for 'To my father, who is not Molly's father', but a friend pointed out that would just look like I'd gone a bit simple and was pointing out biological facts.

Luckily, the internet is at hand to help. One William F.E. Morley has been collecting book dedications and written about them entertainingly in an article for the Alcuin Society webpage. This one is a story in itself:
Belloc, in On Something: "Dedication to Somebody."
"I dedicate this book to those who drank coffee with me in the smoke room of the Mauretania - CCC, MRC, JCB Jr., RHC and GWB. To the first three my friendship; To the fourth and fifth, my apologies as well. To the fifth a request that he show mercy to all slanderers, that he report me and my cause aright with Veronica and a dozen Georgian widows."

I particularly like this one because it made me cry, and I like crying over things that touch me:
A book about Gregory Dexter: "To the memory of my Father because he would have liked Gregory, and to my Mother, because every book needs one reader who is going to like it anyhow."
It makes me think about the time when my son was learning to skateboard and was very very bad at it, so he came and asked if we were going to see my mum soon because 'Granny will think I'm brilliant at it'.
But the one that makes me cry most is Raymond Carver's last book of poetry, A New Path to the Waterfall which is just simply dedicated to 'Tess, Tess, Tess.' It's all he needed to say.

And my writing prompt today is .... finding a message printed in a book.


M.E Ellis said...


I like reading the deds too. I try to work out if there's any hidden messages hahahaha!


Debra said...

When reading those deds and acks, I never thought about the work that went into them.

So easy to hurt feelings, by leaving someone out, or including them.