Last month, when I completed the manuscript for Mae Murray: Portrait of a Silent Film Diva, I wrote her letter, basically explaining I was moving on. She had lived with me every day …. well, rather than tell you about it, here is the letter.
Dear Mae –
You have lived me for over two years. There has not been a day that I haven’t thought about you in those 24 months. You’ve been with me to Portugal, Spain, Canada (twice), and Los Angeles. I have talked with your family and friends about you. I have viewed all of your available films. I have turned every stone I knew in my search for the real Mae Murray. I have your birth certificate, your marriage certificates, and anything I could gather to follow your trail over your almost 80 years. You’ve mesmerized me; you’ve made me laugh; you’ve made me angry. When I embarked on this journey with you, a fellow writer warned me, “Be careful; she can absolutely entrance you, even from the grave.” Duke was so right!
So, Mae, I’ve finished your story. Let’s see, there are 425 pages and over 150 photographs which will tell your story. The box, containing your life, is on its way to the publisher. I’m anxious for silent film fans, movie buffs, in general, to get to you know like I have.
Did I portray you accurately? Who knows? It’s a huge job and responsibility writing the life story of another person, someone you’ve never met. I assured you the day I visited your final resting spot that, while my portrayal of you would not always be flattering, it would be fair.
So, Mae, it’s time for me to move on. I have other projects waiting for me. All in all, it’s been a fun challenge. You’ve been a wildly interesting traveling companion these last two years. So long, for now!
I even used this photo of Mae from the mid-1930s. I imagined she was waving goodbye to me!
Now, I’ve changed my mind. Mae is actually waving hello to me! She’s back in my life–again! I’m glad. I had a hell of a time trying to say goodbye.
There are edits to add to the manuscript. The current batch will keep me busy through Thanksgiving. There is publicity to do. There is the cover to finalize with the publisher. I’m finding new things about this intriguing creature everyday. Details that need to be added to the manuscript.
I’ve saved the best for last. I’m delighted that Mae’s granddaughter is coming my wedding next month in New York City. I’m also meeting Mae’s great-niece on the same trip.
Hurray! I didn’t have to say goodbye, after all!
It’s not really THE END, just the beginning.