The elixir I adore
Without a cup I’m dour.
Mornings would stretch like taffy
Folded over my desk
A sticky mess
Saliva drooling till percolator brewing.
I am a traitor to my method and I threw it all away today. I wrote a chapter in the fall of 2010 for Power, the sequel to Money; the prose is fine writing but the betrayal of Betty’s and Jil’s relationship was unforgivable. Revision is a way of life for me, but this chapter was seditious to my normal method of writing and no amount of work could salvage the flawed material. When my writing is going full steam it is because I am in an egoless state and allowing myself to assume the thought processes of my characters. My mind becomes a sieve, catching the thoughts and activities of these phantoms beyond my world, floating amongst the action as a disinterested observer gamely transcribing all I see and hear.
In this case, I tried to tell the characters how to act, feel, and react in this travesty of a chapter instead of giving them free reign to divulge their true selves. Imagine a director insisting his gifted actors play to their weaknesses instead of their strengths. Imagine a leading man playing against type in a bad movie. The scene I wrote was influenced by the desires of a well intentioned advocate of Betty; the outcome was a miscasting of characters for the purpose of achieving conflict and an eventual reconciliation that can be accomplished with more subtle means. Less is more. I have put the metaphorical two by four away.
It took a year of not liking the chapter with growing intensity to finally round the corner and conclude that this chapter is beyond salvage. Into the dustbin it goes and a fresh sheet of paper replaces the formerly textured, modern depiction of the puzzle piece in Betty’s story. Barren landscape now awaits my muse; a vast swath of white noise screaming for fulfillment. Goodbye ego. Hello Betty!
Noun: The occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way: “a fortunate stroke of serendipity”.
How wonderful that the first print run is coming from Betty Thursten’s hometown of Rochester, New York. I had no control over where the book printing would occur. That rates as a minor serendipitous event; the true serendipity is the route the first two hundred copies took to get to me. From Betty’s fictionalized hometown, the books passed through Davenport, Iowa, my very real birthplace. I have spent many moments of my life marveling at the unpredictable relationships of things and people; I am in wonder more than surprise at the intersecting paths life offers me.
This is a special moment in my timeline and I will cherish this intersection of my imagination and reality, an all too rare occurrence, I assure you.
Thrown from the moving car, my firstborn looks in horror as I drive off with the midwife ready to deliver the new baby in the back seat. My first novel published and slowly working its way out into the world, meandering through the various venues of sales as I push and prod my precious to walk on its own; this middle time between books is familiar to me: web design, marketing, sales, and public relations. A crushing weight of creativity is focusing me back to my writing and revision. I want my toddler showered with adoration, praise, and multitudes of readers; yet, my next novel is ripe and needs the usual rewrite before I impose its flaws on my editor, Meghan E. Dee. She suffers enough with my writing, our creative commons demands the meanest effort on my part to pare the gross errors of logic and whimsical use of grammar, passive voice, and hair brained flashbacks. We each promise to do our best to inflict the least harm on the other and I intend to do my part.
So, sweet prose, learn to run quickly, my next child is in the wings and is crying for my attention; while you are cute and cuddly, this course blob of syllables barely able to live on its own deserves my unswerving attention. I have cruelly thrown you to the wolves without a big six publisher to protect you; grow a thick skin to match your powerful plot, intriguing characters, and fabulous storyline. Fear not, I will return sooner than you imagine prodding you along the path I chose for you. Carry on. Carry on.