A BOOK IN THE MAKING?
That which is received is received according to the mode of the receiver. (St. Thomas Aquinas) Let’s see what sort of a mode you are in.
A couple years ago, someone wrote asking me to consider writing a book about Seton. I thought about it, and couldn’t come up with an approach, so I didn’t try. Then, this Christmas, I got another letter from a different someone asking me to consider writing a book about Seton. I don’t know if these two were colluding with a clever strategy planned to cover several years, but the letters said almost exactly the same thing. I thought about it, and couldn’t come up with an approach.
Then, I received the book of the letters of Flannery O’Connor as a Christmas gift. Among her letters, O’C wrote a series of notes to her publisher about a group of Dominican nuns, the Hawthorne Nuns founded by Rose Hawthorne, daughter of the famous author Nathaniel Hawthorne. The Hawthorne Dominicans take care of cancer patients, and these Georgia nuns took care of a little girl named Mary Anne from the age of three until she died at age twelve. They considered her saintly and wanted Flannery O’Connor to write a biography of her. O’C did not think much of the idea, but she suggested to the nuns that they write the book and she would edit it and write an introduction to it.
The nuns collaborated, each writing stories of Mary Anne. They gave their book to O’C who thought it was awful and told the nuns that the first miracle of their little saint would be if this book ever got published. O’C took the time to edit, taking out much of the pious meanderings and wrote an introduction. She sent it to her publisher to ask him if he knew of anyone who might want to publish such a thing.
To O’C’s surprise, her own publisher thought he would want to publish it. The nuns were practically dancing in the streets. They sent three more chapters to O’C. She sent two on to the publisher saying that the third one she was going to spare him. It was about Mary Anne eating apple sauce. The book was published and had great success.
I tried to see if the Memoirs of Mary Anne was available, but it must be a rare book, because the prices on it are really high. But the O’C approach struck me, and what at first seemed undesirable to me, now became something that I am excited to try.
Here’s what I am thinking. The story of Seton obviously has its origins with Dr. and Mrs. Carroll. So the book would begin with how Seton came about – Mrs. Carroll would be the one who could write about this best, but if she didn’t have time to write about it, she could at least make up an outline and jot down notes that could then be written up or someone could interview her. Once Seton came into being, the story of Seton then becomes the individuals and their families who populated the school. And the family member(s) are the ones who would best be able to write about this. Each family could send its stories to me, and I could be the editor and like O’C think that the book had no hope. I would really enjoy reading the stories that families have to tell. These individual stories could tell a little background about their family, how they came to be involved with Seton and then particular remembrances. They could focus on one member of the family, or the whole group. If there is something of interest about the family post-Seton that could be included as well. Maybe someone wants to tell just one story about their Seton days. The approach that each person would take in writing would be his own. We are all for diversity here! A family could comprise a chapter or be combined with others to form a chapter. Stories are what inspire and entertain. So I hope you will consider some story that could be included.
Now, if we left it at this, the book would never happen. I would receive few or no stories from anyone. So what I think we first need to do is take nominations of families or individuals to be included in the book. Whatever would be of interest. I could make up my own list, but I know that I would miss families who should be included. Maybe there was a family who had a particular influence on you, or a family you know something about would like to know more. So here I am asking for nominations and please don’t be afraid to nominate your own family or a member of your family or some particular story you would like to tell. After receiving the nominations, I will then write to each nominee asking him or her to write up his or her story. If someone writes about his family eating applesauce, I will edit that out. It would be good to include an e-mail for your nominee.
After we get these stories and get them edited, then we could see if there are Seton stories that get left out – things that need to get included such as the Old Building of fond memories. Those sorts of things could get added in somehow if they are not part of anyone’s story, but storytellers should also consider these sorts of things in writing their family story. This is a long-term project, but I think it could be very fun, and I would keep you updated on it here.
OK, that’s what I am proposing. So let the nominations begin. Rather than doing it on this site, it would be better, I think, to e-mail me. I will collect the nominations and then we will be well on our way to a New York Times best seller. Seriously, I have no ambition of this being something beyond Seton readership. I think it will be great to have in place, for us to remember, learn from and to enjoy. And for current and future families of Seton it will be a good source for them to know the origins and history of their school.
Here’s my e-mail. [email protected] Get in the right mode and send in your nominations today.
Oh, and we’ll think about movie rights later.
Jezu, ufam Tobie.