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Jean's Blog (Check out links to Guest Blogs in lefthand Column)

DONE IT!

May 2, 2016

Tags: writing, novel, characters, Nile

A year ago, I plunged into my novel and stopped writing my monthly blogs, wanting to channel all the energy of my creativity toward the one goal that beckoned enticingly from the shadows. Now winter has passed, an astoundingly mild winter, but one that seems reluctant to cede its place to spring. Clouds race across the sky, propelled by an unseasonal wind. Storms and hail batter the middle of the country. Here we are, in May 2016, and the chill in the air still makes the crocuses and daffodils shiver along with the rest of us.
I spent a year of writing and thinking about writing. My novel is done, except for responding to advice from agent and editor. I have neither. I am stranded in the nether world of doubt and despair from which I rescued other writers for years. Who will love my brain-child? Who will make it all real? I wait. Answers will eventually come. They may not be the answers I so desire. I am not a patient person I discover, although I always thought I was.
I set out to write that novel, clear about where it would begin and where it would end. I knew the beginning. I knew how it ended. I was fuzzy, but hopeful that I would be able to sharpen focus on everything that needed to happen in between. What I had not anticipated was the way certain characters, just a name at first, struggled and elbowed their way to importance, and in doing so, unfurled infinite possibilities, influenced interaction with others, tilted the story differently and through their motivations and individual needs skewed the involvement with their environment and world events their way. I felt myself being dragged along to unpremeditated scenarios by the energy the characters themselves projected. It was a mind-blowing experience.
Now, like so many other writers of first novels, I sit on hot coals, pretending to do and say all that is expected of me in my real world, while the world and characters I created bang on the door of my consciousness, demanding to know what will happen next. The novel (tentative title, CHILDREN OF THE NILE), is finished, but not final, as I wait for responses.
This the mere beginning. But what of the people whose lives I explored, whose lives I lived as I wrote them? They became more real to me than flesh and blood. We lived together for so many months, shared Eureka moments, struggled against each other, flew above the clouds into the zone together and emerged dazed but triumphant to read words that wrote themselves, words I loved, and was unaware of having written.
Now there is only the pain of waiting.


Writing My Way Through the Year

April 9, 2015

Tags: winter, spring, novel, trees

Awaited Pleasures

Spring is hiding, but I am in no mood for a game of hide-and-seek. I need the real thing after the winter we have had this year. I am rigorously proceeding with all the spring requirements: spring cleaning, sorting and tidying, Passover etc., but the touch of spring sunshine on my face is missing. I dare not put my plants out on our small terrace, although they suddenly feel claustrophobic in the living room. The inhospitable cold wind still breathes an ominous chill into every day. The sight of buds bursting into bloom and trees leafing into delicate spring exuberance is yet to come. Winter is refusing to let go, hanging on with a relentless grip, and it seems that spring is not powerful enough to insist that it's time is now.
Nonetheless, life moves on. I wrestle my way forward into my novel and find that new directions emerge and new connections are made between characters in a larger more metaphoric sense. It is such hard work to move with the characters as they swerve from the path I planned for them and create enticing new opportunities. Letting go of a lovingly crafted episode that no longer advances the direction the story is taking is truly painful, but I will wait until I have completed a full draft and have had some "beta" readers react to it, before making the decision, even though I sort of know now that the painful excision will have to be made.
I am having so much fun with the process and the fulfillment of my life's dream to write a novel. Who knows if it will ever see the light of day, but meanwhile, I forge ahead, loving the work, loving the opportunity to try


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THE ORCHID'S MESSAGE

July 1, 2014

Tags: orchid, hope, blooms, novel

Harbinger of hope

An array of dormant orchid plants droops glumly on my living-room window sill, exquisite blooms long gone, stems cut to the nub, broad leaves listing to one side or another. I don't expect much of them, and they don't expect much from me, but because the leaves are still a glossy green I find it impossible to walk them down the hallway outside my apartment and consign them to their doom.
So they sit patiently for months and years on my North-facing window-sill absorbing whatever sunlight filters grudgingly through the kaleidoscope of buildings across the street, and I try to forget that they once sported magnificent blooms on tall and graceful stems.
However, recently, two of them decided that their long sleep had ended. A thin stem rose wavering into the air from the protection of glossy leaves. Tiny buds bulged and later burst into cascading beauty. One produced bright yellow blooms in a cluster, igniting the moment with magic. The other, pink and purple, spaced its blossoms with an artist's flair. Undeterred by the air-conditioning at its roots, it dances in the air that flows up from the air-conditioning unit below and reminds me that as long as there is life, there is possibility, and as long as there is possibility, miracles can happen.
And as I admire their loveliness every time I walk by and marvel at the miracle of their sudden rebirth, I feel a flood of hope that my year of transition and my dormant novel may yet take energy from my subconscious and bloom into being before too long. As long as there is possibility, miracles happen, and my beautiful orchid, dormant for two years, whispers its message to my heart every day.


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