Wednesday, August 10, 2016

The Adventure of Writing

When I wrote How I Grew Up at the “advanced youthful” age of seventy-five, I honestly thought I’d write one book and that would be it. A lifelong dream fulfilled, a story told that had needed telling.

But there’s this – I got hooked. I had no idea how addicting this adventure I’m on could become; how one book would grow into another, and yet another, and still another. And now I'm deep into novel number five, working title Andrew’s Journey. Two brothers: one an artist, one a warrior. Both serve in Vietnam in different branches of the military, and for very different reasons. But that’s just the beginning of the story.

The characters I create become as real to me as my family. I guess in a way they are my family – they were born in my imagination. And I know them better; I can get into their heads as I never could get into my children’s. Sometimes they do startling things. I’ve learned to let those things happen. For my current w.i.p. I needed to give Andrew, the protagonist, an art instructor who could also act as mentor and sometimes agent. I have no idea why I decided to make her young and beautiful and French. There is no romance between them, just mutual respect and appreciation.

But then Jake, the younger brother, is on leave and home to serve as best man at Andrew’s wedding to Mary. Mary’s a musician – a pianist. Yes, there’s music in this book: mostly choral music. Andrew’s passion is painting, but he loves to sing. Brahms’ Requiem is important in the book. Andrew is more complicated than I realized when I first met him.

Where was I going with this? Oh, yes. When Jacob meets Isabel, the gorgeous young French woman who is his brother’s art teacher, sparks fly. He’s twenty. She’s thirty-three. They both told me that was immaterial. When I met Isabel I had no idea she’d become involved with a much younger man. Here’s Jacob’s first look at her:

I knew she was French: Isabel Jeanseau. Nobody had told me how stunning, youthful and chic she was. I couldn’t keep myself from glancing at her amazing legs as she moved smoothly toward me on three-inch heels.
She smiled as she extended her hand: “And you are Jacob.” Only she pronounced it Zhah-kov, and it made my head spin.
“Yes, I am,” I said, returning her smile. “And you are my brother’s art professor. What should I call you?”
She looked up at me – she was tiny, probably just over five feet – and replied, “Your family calls me ‘Issy.’”
“I like Isabel,” I told her. Slightly tilting her head, she looked at me again, and I nearly drowned in green eyes framed by impossibly long lashes that looked real.

Yes, it’s pretty clear where this is headed.

Or maybe I did know that Jake and Isabel would get together. Maybe somewhere in my subconscious, where this story was churning, that was an element that would eventually surface. Isabel becomes an important part of the story, in fact. Who knows where these thoughts come from? We like to think our characters tell us what they want to do. The human mind is remarkable.

All I know is, it’s fascinating and I can’t believe how fortunate I am to have found this passion at this point in my life. I just hope my eyes and hands hold up so I can keep writing until my family finds me keeled over at my computer. I can’t think of a better way to go.

All my novels are available on Amazon, paperback and e-book.