Sunday, October 9, 2016

Lost and Found #WingWritingChallenge Day 23

I've been writing since I was a young child. I've always had a very active imagination. There's been character development, story lines and dialogue swirling around in my chaotic and rarely quiet brain for as long as I can recall. 

I haven't always been good about keeping what I've written. I've lost a lot of the scraps of paper covered in blue scrawl, and typewritten pages stapled together at the upper left corner. I've relocated and moved so many times in my life. I was thinking about it today ... throughout the last forty-five years I've lived in approximately twenty-two different places. That includes eight cities, two states and two different countries.I've been writing for at least thirty-five of those years. Some of what I've written has been lost forever - some of it went missing for a good chunk of time during the last several moves. A few months ago some of it was found again.  

I was excited about coming across a majority of things I found in the large box that had been stowed away in the closet in my office. The above manuscript was titled Fool Me Twice, and was begun long before what became The Color of Thunder - my first published novel - was ever an idea in my head. I lost a great deal of what I'd written for this novel. It was all stored on big floppy disks about a hundred years ago. I have a small portion of it printed out, and a whole three-ring binder full of notes, but putting the pieces together for this will take some time. It's a thriller - which is something I have never really done before. I've decided to rename it Clever as the Devil since a search on Amazon came up with several novels bearing the original title. I'm not sure when I will dive into this enormous project again, but I do plan to finish and publish this book in the not too distant future.

I found a bunch of writing from college - essays mostly. My professors either loved me or hated me. There was no middle ground. 

There's also another story I was creating ... it doesn't have a title, but there is a lot written. There are many typed pages as well as pages that are handwritten. It's interesting to see how my handwriting has changed. It used to be so small and precise.

Over the years I began making my letters and words a bit larger; a little less perfect. Since my surgeries, the legibility of my scrawl is dependent upon the day and the state of my wrist. Even though it's sometimes painful, I still enjoy writing ideas out by hand. There are times when I need to get away from the computer - and I can think through things better with a pen in my hand. I don't know yet what will become of this particular story. I will need to put it all into some semblance of order and see what I really have here. Is there a strong foundation for a full length novel? Could it be shaped into a short story? Are there any redeemable qualities about it at all? I just don't know yet. I remember writing this. I even remember what the characters - David and Allie - looked like in my head, but the details of their tale are fuzzy. I look forward to  reacquainting myself with their story.

Then there's the poetry. So much poetry - and about 98% of it is so heavy with emotion that reading it puts a lead weight in my stomach and brings hot tears to my eyes. Music and poetry were my means of escape, my coping mechanisms, for a good block of time. I'd pushed all of that aside. I'd worked hard to forget that period of my life, and, while I knew it was still there, I'd been pretty damn successful at stuffing it so far back into the darkest corners of my mind that I only caught brief and hazy glances of it once in a while. That part could have stayed lost - the evidence of those dark and difficult years - and I would have been very happy about it. 

I found something that made me smile. It was something I'd written just a few years ago. I belonged to a writing group when I lived in Germany. As a group exercise, we were to write something about the month of March. I decided to put myself into the mind of an overly dramatic and somewhat sassy teenage girl, and used a lot of descriptive imagery in my piece. It's called In the Pursuit of Spring. Here's an excerpt:

While she listened to the rhythmic beat of windshield wipers as they cleared the driver’s view in the front seat, the story of the conspiracy and brutal assassination of Julius Caesar, believed by many to be one of the greatest military commanders in history, marched quietly and unbidden into her head. Just like the wipers soothed her now, so had the tale, or perhaps more the telling of the tale in the flowing and somewhat lyrical style of Shakespeare’s iambic pentameter, the words rolling and almost musical coming from the throat of her teacher as she’d read it aloud in school months before. English, not one of her favorite subjects if she was honest, was situated tortuously before the forty minutes of freedom that was lunch break, and was normally a span of time she put up with only because she had no other choice in the matter. However, and she was at least mature enough to admit this, but only to those who were closest to her and who would not dare repeat it, she’d found the steady, confident lift and fall of the aforementioned teacher’s voice surprisingly pleasant as she’d recited the dying words of the infamous Roman general, uttered while the man is being brutally murdered by a group of ruthless men at the Senate. “Et tu, Brute? Then fall, Caesar,” the dying man whispers as he pulls the white fabric of a toga over his face and dramatically falls dead and bleeding from numerous swipes and stabs of malicious blades upon the ground on that ill-fated day now remembered as the Ides of March.

The girl was relatively certain that it mattered little if nothing at all to her whether or not Caesar had actually been militarily brilliant. And it had been consistently pointed out to her by her teacher that Shakespeare’s telling of the story was a bit historically askew, so it was the fictitious facts of that long ago day she’d been interested in, if only long enough to pass the quarter final. She was pretty certain that she’d gotten the most important parts of the story down, although some of the details had been less than clear with too many characters to keep track of and all of them speaking a language that was far too frilly and nearly undecipherable to her teen ears. During the course of the nine weeks her class had studied the literary piece she oftentimes found herself thinking that Shakespeare was highly over rated, and had decided halfway through the first act of the play that a writer as praised as the famous old Brit was should be a little easier to understand. As the girl slowly drifted to that hazy place that lingers just before sleep, a thoughtful and perhaps mischievous smile played along the line of her carefully painted lips. A soothsayer’s warning and an adoring wife’s bloody premonition be damned. Sometimes, and the occasion was rare she was certain, it just didn’t pay to be stubborn.

Sometimes it's fun to write a little (or a lot) over the top. It stretches certain muscles and satisfies the urge to be a bit theatrical.

So what will I do with this lost and then found box of literary work? I'm not sure yet. Like I said, there may be a novel or three lurking in there. Perhaps there are a few short stories and some of the less painful poetry that could be combined to create a collection of some sort that I may find worth publishing. What I do know for sure is that what's in that box along with the other half dozen manuscripts I already have in the works guarantees that I have enough writing projects to keep me busy for a good, long time.