“John leaned his head back, closed his eyes, and let the cool damp salt air fill his senses and intoxicate him. The smell of the ocean, mixed with the scent of heavy pine, provided a momentary diversion which aided him in warding off any memories or feelings that may try to escape their burial grounds, deep down, inside where he had locked them away. He tapped his fingers nervously on the arms of the chair, one after the other in succession, methodically creating a rhythm in perfect cadence. He felt the pad of each finger, then thumb, scratch against the splintered wood before it lifted again for the next in line. He continued to tap the arm of the chair, until his weighted eyes started to close.” Medillia’s Lament, The Novel
I watched as Jody’s fingers tapped nervously beside his laptop as we sat crowded at a small table in the window of Breaking New Grounds. Excitement filled his voice, masked only by guarded reserve. He set the ground rules for our meeting as I opened Kyle’s laptop and tried to quickly get acquainted with it, mine had taken one step closer to being rendered unusable and I had left it at home. We were there to focus on creating a strategy for reaching the final copy of Medillia’s Lament. Jody wanted nothing to do with discussing the cover art, publishing, or marketing of any kind. I agreed. I wanted nothing more than to hand our final version to a few selected first run readers for comments and missing edits.
This morning I reached for my keyboard now attached to my laptop and opened Jody’s email. We had agreed that he would finish up reviewing and rewriting Applewood and I would run through Chicago again after his recent edits to smooth out the voice in the novel and create a cohesiveness for our readers. As I read through the first ten pages or so, making minor grammatical changes as I went, I realized this was my first read through of the novel as a whole. It ceased to be my streaming voice filling around Jody’s masterful dialogue and spun into a story that I was enjoying reading. I only stopped when the tense seemed off or a sentence had stood out as being sloppy or unnecessary. Libby came down in her pajamas and asked me what I was doing. I looked over, smiled and replied, “editing.” She wanted to know what page I was on and if I would have to edit the whole entire book. I nodded and then she asked for help with getting a bowl of Cheerios for breakfast.
Medillia’s Lament took on a whole new persona in my life this morning as I am sure it will do many times before reaching your hands. I’m thankful for this project and I’m excited to be working with Jody. We timidly agreed on Thanksgiving as the end date for our final draft going into the hands of our first round readers. I closed Kyle’s laptop gently and whispered, “we can do that.”
“Her mind shuffled through the drinks she had watched her friends order when they had all gone out together but none of them seemed to fit the moment. She was embarrassed by the fact that she knew very little about wine and beer and even less about ordering cocktails. When it had been suggested that she meet a blind date at The Wild Irish Rose she had agreed for lack of a better idea. She finally decided to go with what she knew best. “I would love a diet coke if that would be alright.” Medillia’s Lament, The Novel
This new character being introduced so late in the novel is young, naive, timid, yet somehow adventurous. A curious childlike spirit hovers over her and gives off a nymph like quality which is incredibly appealing to John and the place he finds himself in at The Wild Irish Rose. He’s taken back by her appearance to lack confidence yet something tells him that she is incredibly well traveled and smart. Probably the last place you want to meet someone new is in a bar, it’s the cliche of all cliches, but it’s the place that most people go first when they are single and looking for someone to spend time and to get to know.
I’ve pushed the pause button on my blogging for now wanting to focus all of my energies and free time on finishing up Medillia’s Lament. I’ve never been this close but felt so far away from sticking a fork in myself and declaring done. Just like everything else, writing is a process and one that I’m willing to work my way through.
Ernest Hemingway in Venice
“A year seemed to be hardly any time at all as John became acquainted with the Wild Irish Rose as one of its owners for the first time. He found a certain peace behind the deep dark mahogany bar and enjoyed his time spent alone as he wiped down the bottles and hung glasses above him in the racks. He was able to appreciate the work and craftsmanship he had put into the bar with his brother while they raced next to one another to remodel the space and open on schedule. ” Medillia’s Lament, The Novel
Bartenders are rich with stories and experiences and if only walls could write, the secrets shared between patrons and servers would fill volume after volume for all to read. Many artists have been known to sit on such stools throughout their careers whether searching for inspiration or drowning their sorrows in a row of strangers. Regardless it’s where they seem to have found a certain solace. I’ve never been one that can drink more than a couple of drinks and still retain any composure at all. I’m affectionately referred to as a cheap date by my husband and I’ll be the first to admit that two glasses of wine equate a vial of truth with me. I become an open book of emotions, mostly harmless, but deep and vulnerable none the less. As the wine spills and pours over my glass so does my willingness to bare all and become a seeker of the truth that is buried deep within us all.
John buried his pain and guilt with frequent trips to the bar he built with his two own hands yet somewhere in the resolution of the novel he finds his way back behind the deep dark mahogany bar as someone who is able to serve others, not only just himself. Libby beckoned me to sit down at the kitchen island tonight to write. She is only eight years old, but being my youngest of three she has already acquired some mature views on life and how she believes it should be lived. “You just need to finish it Mom, so it will be done.” I sat down next to her on one of the two stools that rest at the far end of our island and opened my binder with Jody’s screenplay securely fastened between its metal rings. I fanned through the first hundred pages that I have already converted into a novel and glimpsed at the character notes I had scratched out in pencil as I made my way through his incredible story of hope and tenacity.
My fingers tapped out the first few sentences of the new page waiting to follow the ones before it into the last chapter of the novel. I waited for the thoughts and emotions I held about the scene to click into place. My fingers hesitated to move on until I was sure the reader would feel what I first felt when I read through the screenplay. How would I ever know if they were able to connect with the story as I had, the coincidences between the plot and my own life created an immediate connection which has now strengthened over the span of two years. Just a couple more pages until the first draft of Medillia’s Lament, The Novel is finished and I’m left sitting here in my kitchen feeling as though I’ve only just begun.