It's 10:15 on a beautiful night and I have been writing most of the day. And yesterday too. I missed my deadline to complete my 200 page manuscript by June 30th and even with this extension I will not have more than 25 pages to share with the four women who along with me are writing a book length book. There are five of us, counting me, and we began writing together two years ago. We meet every eight weeks or so and we write and send out 30 pages at a time for review and feedback when we meet on one Saturday for the day, lunch included.
The instructor has so much enthusiasm and writing knowledge that I am so lucky to have her guidance and encouragement. Among the other women, one has written a magnificent story about her grandfather and his brother who won an Alaskan goldmine in a poker game in the mid 1800's. She started off writing her grandfather's story in Alaska but it has also become her story, so it spans a hundred years or more.
Another woman is writing about her dysfunctional family and what it meant to a ten year old child when her father walked out of the family and a compassionate priest helped her find her strength.
The third woman, who is struggling with her own permission to find her words, writes about her son's cancer and the dissolution of her marriage.
JB asked me today what my book is about. I don't know how to answer that, yet. I think it is about love and betrayal and transformation and redemption. It is about one relationship that is enduring and steady and another that is dysfunctional and passionate and it is about a journey to let the heart break open but not the seams.
As of now I have completed nine chapters and 30 pages. I have another 200 plus pages in draft form, some just dialogue, some story snippets, some quotations and letters and some efforts at penance and some hateful harmful words.
It's my job to tie all of this together into a coherent compelling story that somehow transforms not just the characters but the reader.
I told a friend last night that I know I am not a great writer but I love the process of trying to be a good writer. Right now I am sitting in my new breezy porch with all the giant sliding windows open. It is jet black outside and I can see a corner of light in JB's Magic Cottage, where working her own magic. My dog Stella is restlessly on the floor in front of me; she is not well much of the time but this week she has told us clearly that she wants to be here and we will help her do that as comfortably as she can be.
In writing this my second novel, which is a novel with some parts relived and some parts made up, some of the past five years has been stirred up and not all of it is good. I still don't know how my book will end. Really, I have no idea. My writing teacher, who has seen several drafts already, advises me to assure the reader early on that the character Casey will be okay. I wish I could do that, and I probably can. But I have feeling Casey wants more than just 'okay'. And why shouldn't she?
It is now 10:40. I am half way through four days that I can devote primarily to writing this book. I have weeded the garden, visited my Mom, gone out with JB shopping and eating. But I have time to write this weekend. Tomorrow I will let go of 25 pages and send them off to my writing group in near final form, off for them to read and respond. What a gift.
There are moments now when I feel contentment taking root. Maybe you don't know I've had a hell of a few years: loss, betrayal, vilification, unforeseen shock through all of it. I still believe I am learning a lesson that is not yet clear to me. But I still believe.
Have a great weekend. Thanks for coming by.