In case you were wondering...
Last Sunday marked the seven week anniversary (is there a color for that?) of the beginning of this novel, and the blog, for "My Journey with Lea." In that span of time I have done a lot of philosophical meandering on subjects ranging from the blissful highs of love and transformation to the aching lows of frustration and loss.
Very little of what I have written was planned. There is no road map to determine what I will blog about next. It literally just happens.
I actually started this novel with nothing more than an storyline and my vivid imagination. The tale is loosely based on aspects of an ongoing journey with my very own version of "Lea". We fell in love early in life and had a long gap in our relationship, before finally finding each other again. Not that life is ever as simple as that.
Having never written a novel before I anticipated the process would be similar to writing an essay. Start at the beginning, work through to the end, go back and clean it up. Wrong! Once I started writing, in earnest, the story was coming to me (or through me) completely out of sequence. Sigh. So I took a giant step backwards and decided to put some method to the madness. I drafted an outline and created a formula. Here it is. This is how I do what I do, in case you were wondering:
Step 1: How do you feel today Alex? I always begin by taking a quick inventory of my mood. Am I in a really good place? Happy, full of love? Or am I in a deep, soul stretching funk? With the respective mood determined I look for a relevant chapter to write about.
Step 2: Meditative road trip! Once I know what I am going to write about I try to go there. Really go there. I close my eyes for a few moments and try to "feel" the story, the characters, their moods and personalities. It allows me to write from my heart, not my brain.
Step 3: Go baby go! When I begin writing I try to just...let...go. I start typing and I don't stop until the words no longer flow through me. A critical ingredient in this step is that I do not allow time for editing. Spell check does not exist. Grammatical correctness is an unwelcome visitor. My creative brain is in the driver's seat, and my analytical brain is in the back seat, taking a nap.
Step 4: Spring cleaning! Later, much later, I go back in and pretty it up. The creative side is on vaca, and the analyzer is in overdrive. Spell check, grammar, flow, you know the drill. I re-write entire sentences and delete whole paragraphs. I make it make sense.
This process seems to really work for me. I have tried in the past to edit as I go, however, writing that way feels too much like learning to drive a manual shift car for the first time. Start, lurch, break, stutter, stop. I definitely prefer driving under cruise control.
And I hope that you enjoy the results.
So, as an example of this crazy writing style, I offer you a few paragraphs from the book. The next few blog entries will focus on Rachel and Leo, as that is where my head is at right now. Enjoy!
After a romantic but brief honeymoon in Chattanooga, where Leo surprise Rachel with a beautiful picnic by the waterfall, they returned to Highland Rim Stables to start their life together. Leo, who had been on his own since he was 14 and had lived alone for 12 years, did his best to make the house more welcoming. He built shelves in the kitchen and painted them with a light varnish so that the natural wood grain still came through. He bought a vanity at the furniture store in town and attached a mirror to the back of it, placing in the bathroom for his bride. He cleaned the best he could and made sure there were fresh stores delivered the day before they arrived home.
Rachel had seen many fine homes in Philadelphia, with stone pillars, china displays, orate chandeliers, and the finest oak furniture. But the moment she walk into Leo Ciotte’s simple county cottage she was home. Rachel loved the flow of the energy in the house, the way you immediately felt warm and welcome when you walked through the door.
Near the entry there was a bench for removing boots and a rack for hanging jackets and hats. The living space was one large room, with a long Victorian couch in the center of the largest wall. In one corner of the room there were two well made, maple chairs with embroidered cushion seats. They looked new. Between them he had placed a small table and a quaint lamp. The room was completed by a rustic wood burning fireplace with a granite mantle place, on which sat two pictures. One appeared to be Leo and Spirit at a show of some sort. The other was of a copper skinned man with dark features and jet black hair. Rachel knew she was home the moment she walked through the door. The place just spoke to her. She also knew she was home because Rachel...
Believes in forever.