I was still feeling a little bummed you had to stay in Palo Alto for spring break but then Meghan (she’s the literary agent my dad found) decided we need to go to New York and meet with the two publishers who are most interested in Mercy’s diary. Dad wants to come with us and I am actually glad he does. As much as I want to see Mercy’s diary in print – and most days I still do – I am not enjoying the process very much. It’s very . . . impersonal. I don’t know how else to describe it. The diary is suddenly all about the money. How much it is worth. How much we should accept as an advance for it. How much it will bring in to the publishing house that takes it.
Meghan says I don’t need to worry about any of that, that’s why I have her. But it’s not that I am worried about the money. I’m not. I am worried about what the money does to the diary. To me. To Mercy’s memory. Abigail told me the money and the diary are two separate things. The diary is what it is and it won’t change. The money is about the paper and the ink and the bookstores and the trucks that will carry the crates of books. Mercy’s memory won’t be in the truck, she says. I told her I didn’t quite agree. Abigail said the transcription I have made is impeccable. But it is not in Mercy’s ink, contains none of the smudges of tears or travail or time, none of the human touch that a handwritten diary offers. And because I have rewritten the diary in the language of today, the transcription is more my interpretation of Mercy’s memory, than her actual legacy.
Perhaps she is right. What do you think?
I still plan to come see you this weekend. The life of medical student is not truly his or her own but you can’t spend every minute studying. Clarissa and I will drive up on Friday after her shift. She’s only working until noon so we should be there well before dark. Until then, enjoy the intricacies of pharmacokinetics.