Now, with more mileage as a writer, I understand. In her essay, “Ah, Sweet Rememory!” she writes, “What is learned concerning the writing of a single novel is hopelessly inadequate in writing the next — or any others, for that matter.” Each novel needs a new version of the writer to coax it alive. (That’s only part of the hard part.) I wonder, too, if she meant that as you evolve, so do your standards for what you manifest in the world. And maybe you start to consider your legacy, what will hold up after you pass, prove you existed. How fully you carry your lineage forward.
Virginia’s grandfather, Levi Perry, escaped enslavement as a child, and every year, he told his children the stories so they would know of his escape, so “slavery will never happen to you,” he said. Maybe Virginia enacted his words along with her own as she wove dreams into stories. Virginia wove strong dreams. Her legacy abides in her books; the books and authors she inspired; the children who grew up feeling seen, feeling their freedom through reading her liberation literature (as Virginia called it); the Virginia Hamilton Room at the Yellow Springs Library... and of course her family, and all those who were fortunate enough to know her.