Mired in Chapter 16

My brother Ken was one of the first to volunteer to proofread ‘Farley Bend’.  When I forwarded the file to him, I wondered how much of himself he would see in Emily’s brother Ed.  Many of Ed’s character traits are based on Ken, so I often imagined Ken as I wrote about Ed.

Ken and I discussed ‘Farley Bend’ quite a lot, particularly after he started reading the draft  Imagine my dismay when Ken said, “I’m mired in chapter 16.”  Dread.  Shame.  Panic.  Ok, maybe not panic.  But still… my masterpiece wasn’t even good enough to give Ken something charitable to say while he was reading the proof?

He immediately clarified his statement.  Mired in Chapter 16 because of things he had going on, not because Chapter 16 was a pit of paralyzing prose.  The story wasn’t dead in that chapter, it was simply that he had many other things demanding his time and attention.

In the months that followed Ken’s mired comment, we have referred to it often.  It is part of our history now, and will likely be discussed for years to come.  Will Ken volunteer to proof Volume II?  Probably.  As long as I promise that Chapter 16 will be very well written.

I know I’ve used the wrong word and conveyed the wrong message many times.  One of the reasons I prefer email to telephone conversation is the built-in safeguard of seeing my words take shape on the screen before I share my views.  Thus I have an opportunity to edit unfortunate or inaccurate wording.  This does not prevent me from misaddressing the occasional email message … but that’s a story for another post.

Kate is a Redhead

I’m having fun working on Volume II.  This week I’m contemplating a trip to the theatre for Kate, so working out details of where she will go and what will happen while she is there.  In the first volume I deliberately avoided describing personal appearance and wardrobe much, because I’m more interested in what my people are thinking and doing than in what they look like.

When I decided that the theatre outing would be a formal affair, I talked it over with my friend Susan because she is far more fashionable than I am.   Susan asked me what Kate looks like.  Eventually we decided that Kate should be a redhead.  We have a friend in common who has beautiful red hair, so that is the mental image we started with.

Yesterday Susan provided a list of internet search results for outfits she thought would be suitable for Kate’s outing.  One of the models looked like she could be Kate, except for her hair.  Now I have a very clear picture of Kate in my head.  This weekend I’ll spend some time with her at the theatre and see what happens.

That’s a Familiar Name

What’s in a name, anyway? Several people have asked where the name ‘Farley Bend’ came from.  The answer: I don’t know.  I was pondering the idea of writing a book during my morning drive, and somehow Farley Bend was there.  When I arrived at work I wrote it down on what I expected to become a list of fictional Maine towns.  At the end of the day I brought the list home; it still contained just one entry.

Farley Bend?  All right.  Before settling on the name, I did some internet searches.  I didn’t think I’d ever heard of a Farley Bend in Maine.  I learned that there is a real estate broker named Farley in Bend, Oregon.  That didn’t sound close enough to cause problems.

I wanted to name my main character Emily, because I like the name.  Allen seemed like a good match for Emily – short enough to balance well, and pleasant.  Imagine my surprise when one of my earlier readers told me she has a relative named Emily Allen!  To my knowledge I’ve not met an Emily Allen, though perhaps one day I will.

I surveyed a number of people when I started creating the cast of characters to work at the Farley Bend Mill.  I knew I wanted first names that could have been common during the late 1930’s, and I didn’t want to use only names of friends and family who lived during that era.

Until I started working on this post, I didn’t realize that I used first names of people I liked for many of my characters and selected first names of people I didn’t know for the villains.  I don’t know anybody named Amos, nor do I know anyone who shares the first name of the villain in Volume II.  There are a few names I’m intentionally avoiding because I don’t want to spend any more time than strictly necessary with mental pictures of those individuals.

Writing as therapy?  Probably.  It’s been an interesting experiment, anyway!


366 Very Good Days

The older I get, the more the days blur together.  In the blink of an eye the leaves are turning color again, though it feels like just yesterday I was shoveling snow and wishing for the sight of green grass.  Or even brown grass.  Or mud.  Anything but unending fields of snow and bumpy roads with miles of dingy brown snowbank as far as they eye can see.

As the pace of time speeds up, I find I have more trouble pinpointing when good things happened.  Today we spent some enjoyable time bombing around in our little red Miata, and wondered how long we’ve had this car.  Six years?  Seven?  And when was that motorcycle trip to Cape Breton Island?  Hmmmmm.

I also have a tendency to save favorite single panel strips from page-a-day calendars, and occasionally print similar graphic jokes.  After a while the area around my desk became littered with things that make me chuckle.  Inevitably some of my favorites began to fade or wound up covered by other new, shiny things.

A few years ago I bought a bound book and turned it into a perpetual calendar.  My goal is to record at least one good thing on each date.  I’d also like to identify a birthday for each date, and to select dates that match up with my favorite graphic jokes.  It’s still a work in progress – as new grand-nieces and grand-nephews arrive, I add their birthdays.  It’s turning into a thing of beauty, and reminding me each day of how very lucky I am.  Eventually I’ll have recorded an entire year of adventures, birthdays, blessings and chuckles.

Perhaps the folks in Farley Bend will share birthdays with some of my favorite people.  If you’d like a character to share your special day, leave me a note in the comments below.

An Experiment Gone Amusingly Awry…

I spend a significant amount of time in the car each work day – nearly an hour driving to work, and of course a similar amount of time going home again.  Since I travel with a smart phone anyway, why not see if I can spend that time working on Volume II?

Last week I downloaded a text-to-speech app for my phone.  In theory that means I can talk to my phone and have my words turned into text that I can then import into a word processing program and add to my book.  Beautiful plan, isn’t it?

Here is an excerpt from Wednesday’s experiment:

“Ok 33 chapter 1 don’t know how will Bible try as it picked up by voice today document Lorex killer it I want they are fired list they know about it baby truck up the background sure let’s do it later 30 I want to break it apart art I need a doctor single where the F you think whitney.  Help us horse on everybody will will but they will actually be what’s going on…”

Believe it or not, that doesn’t really resemble what I said.  It’s surreal enough that I don’t think reading it helps me figure out where I was going at all.  Back to the drawing board!