To the reader, the book is just fiction, a story somebody made up. The reader can take breaks anytime, days even. The reader may be affected by the story enough to feel the same emotions as the hero. But, in the back of his/her mind, this is just a book, and it will end on page so and so.
To the writer, the book is his/her guts, her ride into that awful night. Granted, most writers use their lives as the basis of stories and build a whole lot of other incidents to orchestrate the final story; but they invariably scrape their own wounds to tell something important to them.
That's how it is with me.
Something in my past life was hard to understand at the moment, caused much pain, was resolved in a manner that left many wounds. That something wants to be revealed, gets revealed in a work of fiction.
In the present story, Unnamed Madonnas, all I wanted to do is write about my returning to Italy on vacation. The mixed feelings I had on that trip. That was my motivation. Then, I looked at how the narrator would feel if she had been too young to remember her country. So, Sylvia is now a woman, whose aunt stole her to America. In Italy, she wants back the romance of her life, now in middle age, she wants to fix what's wrong; but she needs to fix other things too.
So, those are the hints I can give you; so, when I break for rests, you can ask me questions, we can discuss if something is worrying you, the reader.
By the way, some things are decidedly important markers for those of you who have read any Italian Literature. Dante is here.
1. The story opens on Good Friday.
2. The first quote, at the opening chapter is from The Divine Comedy, Dante's masterpiece.
3. Lost souls, water, miscommunication.