Monday, January 20, 2014

Day 176 of 365

I have been moving fences.

Figuratively, of course, though I also have experience in the literal sense, transferring big, heavy corral panels from point A to point B. Both events leave you sweaty, dirty, and tired, yet ultimately satisfied with your efforts once the dust has settled.

Moving fences, aka “change”, is grueling. It pulls at your soul, messes with your heart, and leaves your head in a fog. Yet it is also the catalyst for creativity and growth. If nothing ever changed except the advancement of years, then I suppose we would all essentially be who we were when we first entered adulthood. Hmmm, ponder that thought for a moment.

I think of Alex at 18, a cocky, resolute young soul, moving 1200 miles from home on a whim, ready to take on the world. I am proud of the person she was, even back then.

I look in the mirror today and I see that same spark, the same confident grin, though the eyes now reflect a deep knowing. An understanding that this complicated, determined, layered person inside has been shaped in equal parts by the stability in her life and the gut wrenching trials she has endured and conquered. The good, the bad, the ugly – it all defines us.

Why we crave both certainty and uncertainty at the same time is one of life’s great mysteries, but it’s a mystery I am eternally grateful for. That gut level, soul stretching craving for more has brought into my life most of the things that bring me the greatest joy. The journey to write this novel, for example, began in the area of my being that was never quite satisfied by the status quo.

Rachel was very familiar with this feeling. She understood the need to live up to the expectations of her family and society, yet there was always an unsettled feeling in her soul, a deep need to find her own voice, her own adventure. Allow me to share with you some additional depth to her character.

Rachel Kirkbright had been born into a family of means. Not Rockefeller, Carnegie type money, but good money all the same. She was the only girl in a family dominated by male heirs, so the pressure was off to be the only Kirkbright to carry on the family’s place in society. Still, there were steep expectations, and by the time she was 12 her parents had her future completely mapped out. She was to attend Bryn Mawr College at 17, marry by 19, and become a “well-rounded” lady of Philadelphia by the tender age of 21.

But Rachel had a rebellious, independent edge to her. When her Mother braided her long, curly brown hair she was quick to unravel it at the first free moment. When a well-meaning friend of her father’s complemented her on her cooking, saying she would make a fine wife someday, she acknowledged the complement but inwardly glared at the observer through defiant blue eyes.

Rachel did as she was told though. She loved her parents and did not want to openly disappoint them. So she took art classes, learned to play the piano, and crossed her ankles when seated in public. But in her heart she always knew there was more to life than Philadelphia society and becoming “a fine wife.” She wanted more. She craved adventure.

She felt most at home when she was in the barn with her father’s Palomino Sahara. She loved brushing the long white mane and washing her golden coat in the warm summer sun, something Sahara never objected to. She especially adored the afternoons when they would break away from lessons and expectations and ride the back trails together. Sahara never judged how her hair looked and could care less about her cooking prowess.

Rachel didn’t know it yet, but that unsettled feeling in her gut was about to lead her to the biggest, and best, changes of her life. For you see, deep down inside, Rachel did, and always would…

Believe in forever.



Friday, January 3, 2014

Day 159 0f 365

I promised…

…in the beginning that I would write a compelling blog to document the grueling process of trying to write a novel. I committed to writing a blog every day and have spent hundreds of hours writing, editing, and creating

Well, having the time to post every day didn’t happen. In fact there have been months where only a single blog or two have made the journey from mind to website, and some weeks evaporated without writing a solitary word. Still, not a day has gone by without a notation on a legal pad, or the back of a receipt, or the notebook on my nightstand. This novel still lives and breathes in me, striving to see the light of day.

So while the blog has not been a daily exercise, creating the novel has. I have found a lot of wonderful writing spaces here in my temporary city and I know that I WILL finish this novel on time. And it will be published. I am, however, going to spend less time on creating, editing, and posting the blog. With only 209 days to go I will need to spend my precious writing hours on the goal that started this journey…finishing MJWL. For those of you who have checked in frequently, thank you. I will keep you updated, just not as often.

So with that said, back to our story…

When I write I visualize a lot…guess that’s the name of the game, right? Allow me to share just a small section from MJWL about a beautiful blue horse:

Rachel had wandered away from her parents at the Philadelphia Liberty Festival, drawn to a stunning blue roan appaloosa mare that was standing near the fairground entrance. At age sixteen she had quickly become bored with the incessant chatter about summer homes and the latest scandals and sought respite in the white noise of the street merchants and marching bands. She had walked the length of the parade route when she spotted the mare.

The appaloosa was breathtaking, sporting a slate gray coat from its muzzle to the back of its shoulders, blending seamlessly into a spotted pattern of white and black that extended through the back hips. Defiant patches of silky gray decorated the back legs and hind quarters. The salt and pepper mane was neatly brushed and pulled up into neat button braids, while the solid gray tail was left silently flowing at the whim of the wind.

I can see this horse standing there when I am writing, and describing her to you is pure joy. I hunt for the right words to paint an effective picture, and I hope I have done the appaloosa justice. And I hope that you still…

Believe in forever.