There’s no other place to put this, well, maybe within a journal entry, but somehow setting down words where no one else will see them seems…. Too still. Maybe some other writer or creative soul could use to read this post, or if nothing else, I need to state these sensations in a form more visible than a dust-covered, narrow-lined notebook. Sometimes these notions are too big for small mediums.
Two years ago I started what I assumed was going to be nothing more than a short story about a guy who…. Who changed, but then novels are usually about alterations, whether character-based or locale diversions or whatever the author feels needs to addressed. Blithely I began unspooling a single skein of fictional yarn, taking breaks here and there to revise. To my slight surprise, a novel emerged, then that novel turned several corners, and now I have nearly 119 chapters piled in a document, but a word count doesn’t begin to indicate all that has been considered within the prose. And only now, two years since waking to the dream that initiated this tale, I need to take some deep breaths, allowing what this story means to me.
Yesterday I inserted a chapter about Seth Gordon, a character vital to the tale, but also a soul not well illustrated. At times I’ve wondered why I hadn’t fully formed him; was I being lazy or…. Now I allow that while Seth’s background was firmly documented, who he was needed to remain concealed, for who he was was indeed fleeting. As the rest of the book unfolds, Seth will too, but that’s not the only reason for this post. Every book I’ve written has purpose, most of those drafts for the sheer practice of writing. Maybe at the time I thought publication was the goal, but now I know better. Those previous tales were to prepare for the task of this saga, which is indeed still about a man who changes. But not simply Eric Snyder; it’s about his wife Lynne, their friends Sam and Renee Ahern, their pastor Marek Jagucki. Also Eric’s art dealer Stanford Taylor, his lover Laurie Abrams, and of course Seth. I’ve placed these people against the backdrop of the early 1960s, but events of twenty years previous are deeply entwined within the narrative, unplanned in this book’s beginning stages. Yet as any writer knows, often the story takes its own turns, and best for the author to allow that freedom, even if said freedom takes a very circuitous path.
So much still remains to be written, but I’m not frightened. I am however awed by the privilege to tell this tale. Maybe that’s what I most wish to denote, and why I have to set it here, the appreciation, the joy. Perhaps that’s what another artist needs to read, to slog through the difficult moments. For two years I’ve been faffing around with this novel, dude…. But art can’t be rushed, nor can the process be taken for granted. I will never again have the pleasure of crafting this particular tale, even if at times I do wish it was already long in the can.
Lately I’ve been struggling with a quilt top, often longing for its completion. After the initial thrill, I grew sick and tired of sewing all these little pieces of fabric into small blocks, a pattern of my own choosing, for quilts aren’t quite like novels; they don’t sew themselves the way words fall from able fingertips. But at times quilts are unwieldy as books, or this one was. And I say was because in a matter of hours on Wednesday I finished the top, fashioned the back, cut the batting, sandwiched that sucker, then basted it as my beloved Giants battled against the Reds. (We’re pretty much out of post-season contention, but suddenly playing like we’re in the World Series.) Yesterday I started the actual quilting, and now I stare at that piece of work, which has been a real piece’a work. All my fretting of the last month is literally sewn together in a bright array of autumnal hues. Colour matters to me, whether in fabrics or Eric’s paintings. And today, after revising yesterday’s writing, then adding that to the mix, I just needed to give myself a few moments to ponder exactly what I’m setting down for posterity. It’s far more than one man’s road to self-discovery; The Hawk delves far deeper than anything I’ve ever written before.
Right now it’s much like the quilt, half basted and waiting for my time. And in time, The Hawk will be like other published books and finished quilts, just another dead soldier. But I never planned for soldiers to matter in this novel, I never dreamed of how vast of a scope I would explore. And who I am to even bring these subjects and characters to the surface? I’m a Californian born after the events of this novel take place, just a wife, mother, grandmother, sport fanatic, seamstress, etc, etc, etc…. Yet, for whatever reason, I’m also a writer, with a pretty active imagination. And most importantly, I am open to direction, be it for colours or words or blog entries. Maybe that’s the most vital aspect of this project, simply being available. I don’t mean writing at all hours, or sewing during them either. Like I said, this has taken two years of working in fits and starts. But now I have settled upon a routine, and even when that is altered, at least a framework exists to guide in this book’s completion.
Writing is indeed a privilege; it’s a gift, a treasure, but not always easy. At times it’s draining due to subject matter or words that sneak away or in how easily they tumble. But on this day, I need to note how precious is this rare blessing. I always wanted to write, but never did I fathom the truths that would blend with the fiction. And every day, whether I’m editing or writing or even quilting, the blessing continues in the mere joy already accumulated, as well as what lingers on the horizon. Within the novel, important adventures await all those mentioned above, vital turning points that I’ve been pondering for months. How did I get so lucky to craft this saga, but luck has nothing to do with it.
Yet, sometimes I still can’t believe this is me, yammering on once again about the writing. It’s like marveling about my grandchildren, it’s inhaling another breath, grateful for my life. I just wanted to say how thankful I am for this opportunity, in albeit my usual long-winded fashion. But being mindful is a good thing too. One of these days this part of the process will be done. And when that day comes, oh my goodness!
In the meantime, back to work I go….