Friday, August 11, 2006

Journal of a "Novel"-Entry 20

Celebrating 20 Entries of Complete Drivel

Congratulations, you have reached the 20th entry in this, what is possibly the most laughable "journal" in the history of literature. That's TWENTY entries' worth of complete rambling over a period of about 8 months, and what do I have to show for it? One Prologue in draft and 5/6 of a first chapter of my attempt at a novel. Still, it could be worse: I could have nothing. I could have been totally blocked up for the last 8 months trying to find a "way in" to my story, so since I have written a Prologue and most of the first chapter, no matter how lame they might or might not be, at least I have come up with something. And let's remember, I get at the very most 90 minutes a day to work on this, and usually it's closer to something like 50 minutes......some days, of course, fly past me without me getting to work on it at all. So given all of that, I can say that I am glad I at least have something on paper to work with.

Chapter 1, First Draft, Draws to a Close

Just about there with Chapter 1 of my story, which takes place in one day, June 24, 1924, the day Walter and Greta Brogan are getting married in a small church in Bentonville, Indiana. From the traditional Tridentine High Mass in the small church where the nuptials actually take place, they proceed with their guests to The Golden Room, a banquet/dance hall owned by Greta Heinricks' (make that Greta Brogan's) father, the triumphant P.G. Heinricks, who has thrown a party that he hopes will be memorable for all of the guests and down through the generations. The guests and newly married couple arrive at the reception which is full of the music and the art-deco touches of the roaring 20s (if I've done my job right) and pretty much dance the night away. Before the night ends, we get some insight into the major characters, it is hoped: not just Walter and Greta, who are excited and happy and looking forward to their lives together. But also Greta's father, whose pride in his daughter and insistence on putting his best foot forward both seem to have no limits; Greta's younger brother, Peter, who is a law student looking for a means of escaping his father's long shadow and the dullness of life in the corn belt; Myron Devreaux, Greta's lifelong acquiantance and former classmate who once (?) carried a torch for her and is looking to establish his own career in local politics; and a little more on some others. Hopefully the chapter succeeds in setting the stage for the rest of the story, but we will have to see because I don't even know what the rest of the story is as I have said many times.

I hope that sounds interesting in some ways. For me it has been very interesting to write so far. The characters mentioned above, for one thing, have taken on exponentially more "life" in my mind, which is a fabulous thing and part of the reason why writers insist on the importance of just sitting your *ss down and letting it fly as best you can. It makes things happen. The juices flow and the creativity begins to do what it does. I am not saying what I have written is good, i have not even attempted to read over much less revise Chapter 1. In fact, I am not done with it yet. Just this morning I began writing what to me is the critical 'scene', for lack of a better word, in the chapter. It is the sort of scene I have never written before and I'm really looking forward to seeing how it goes. And if it doesn't go well, I will know it, and I'll have to try again, because this scene has to be as close to 'right' as I can get it. It has to work, or the whole chapter doesn't work, so it will be interesting indeed. After this scene there will be one or two brief ones and I believe that will be one chapter in the books. But of course I will spend some time rewriting and editing it before I take on Chapter 2.

Nothing But Fog Ahead, But the Writer Remains Undaunted

This is especially the case if I can get my first chapter done and into some kind of shape. If I think I have a pretty decent first chapter down, there doesn't seem to be much reason why I can't write a second, and the book goes from there. One thing that is sort of hard to accept is how long writing the entire book is clearly going to take. I try to fit in as much as I can - sometimes jettisoning off on my lunch break from my "day job" to write some of this story - but here it is, about 7 months or so into the project, and I have about 50 pages in draft form going, one Prologue and one chapter. Boy, is this sucker going to take forever. If my book has even 12 chapters, how long will that take - roughly six years?? Which means I'll be, oh, around 42 when it's done? Good gracious. I hope not. But it is no quick job. This is a lifetime accomplishment - it is my life's work, at least in my head.

I've got to just press on with it and take it a little bit at a time and work on it as if my life literally depends on it. There is just no other way to get this novel written, and I want it written. If nothing else to get the damn subject matter off my chest. It's been terrorizing my brain for long enough. Begone, Floyd Lovell! I am only joking about that, for the man WAS gone before I could ever meet him (in this life). But his story has haunted me for a long time and my writing this book is an attempt to do him some kind of tribute. That's how I look at it. My grandmother too, really, whom I did have the good fortune and the honor to know personally, before she died when I was around 14.

There it is then: Chapter 1 is almost done, Chapter 2 looms, the writer is ready to take this story forward. He pledges here and now to do exactly that.

2 comments:

Aura McKnightly said...

Oh, now it's a story. :-0

Mutt Ploughman said...

it's a story, it's a novel....it's a dream at this point.....but, as i tried to express, i am hard at work on it......