Technical writers or non fiction writers scribble to pay the bills and for the love of the analytical or the exercise of truth or deception.

Fiction authors write to illuminate their world or escape it.

Whichever kind of writer, it's all about staying alive and helping or entertaining others.

The Writing Life

Like most writers, I have a love of reading and the power of words. When I was younger, I read everything I could get my hands on, but I don’t consider myself well read. I consumed books like a starved person, so quickly I hardly knew what I had read. By some strange process of osmosis, I learned from everything I read, but I cannot give you an erudite discussion of characters, plots, or authors. I can only tell you it’s lodged some where in the core of my being and informs my writing.

In addition to reading, I’ve spent a life time writing---from that first elementary school composition to my college days when I studied French literature and wrote explications de texte. Along the way, I fell into technical writing--to put food on the table and pay bills. In the 90s, I had the good fortune to take a dialog class with Sol Stein, former owner of Stein & Day publishers in New York and a prolific author. That led to his California-based writers’ group, Chapter One. It was a rigorous, ego-bruising experience, but I was intent on learning everything I could about fiction writing. A few years ago, I also had the good fortune to study with another writer, Louella Nelson, an experienced romance writer and teacher of fiction writing. She provided a different perspective and balance to my writing.

My novel, DREAMING OF LAUGHING HAWK, a mainstream, Sixties era novel, is available on Amazon in print and ebook (also available in Canada, Europe, Japan, and Brazil). Download a free sample. If you like it, I hope you'll download the book and post a review on Amazon.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

That French Thing

I am not fond of this watercolor I cobbled together--a modern-looking girl walking down the cobbled street of a Medieval French town. It's amateurish and I want to toss it out and start all over again, but it at least captures a little of something that has always lingered on the back roads of my mind--France.

When I was a small child, my mother took me to visit my great grandfather who lived in Iowa. My recollection is that he was originally from Alsace-Lorraine. In any event, I can only recall meeting my great grandfather on one occasion. He seemed very tall and slender and I sat on his lap. He dubbed me "Frenchie" for my curious pronunciation of words.

Years later when I was in junior high and high school, I studied French. I don't know why. Somewhere deep down in my psyche, I guess there was a French girl. And when I went off to college I decided to major in French literature. Looking back, it was a choice that doesn't make any sense to me yet I know it was a choice that felt perfectly comfortable at the time.

When I was in my junior year of college, I went to France during the summer for two months of study. By the end of the summer, I had nearly crossed that line of assimilation. I think if I had stayed a month longer, I might never have wanted to return home. I would have become French.

I remember when I was in my early twenties and I went to an oral surgeon to have an impacted wisdom tooth removed. As I was recovering from the anesthesia, I became aware of myself crying and screaming in French over and over again: where is Mama? Under anesthesia I had become a small, terrified French child crying for my mother. Needless to say, I gave the oral surgeon quite a scare.

So yesterday I was digging through some file folders in my desk. I am not a person who hangs on to things. I hate clutter and I regularly throw away things for which I no longer have any use. I was surprised to find a small notebook full of neatly written equations for calculating AC power, resistance, induction and so forth, left over from my time studying electronics. I also found the beginnings of a story I had written 40 years ago about a 13-year old French girl named Genevieve who lived in Medieval times. She is on her way to meet her lover only to learn that his family has arranged a marriage for him that is far more favorable to him and his family than his relationship with a love struck girl.

Step after echoing step, through the narrow streets, clicking heels on the stone, skirt and cloak whipping and billowing about her legs, she ran in fear. She wished that the voluminous black cloak and the night would make her invisible to anyone who might be lurking in the street. Faster and faster she ran down the street as though her feet were barely touching the ground.

I have to stop to laugh at my story and an overwhelming urge to undertake major editorial surgery. The narrow cobbled streets in my mind and in my painting haunt me. I can feel the stones beneath my feet. It's strange that I have never been back to France if I am such a lover of all things French. I think I fear some kind of history, some kind of French connection that I do not want to uncover.

1 comment:

  1. An interesting perspective and encapsulation... I enjoyed it.

    ReplyDelete