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Adventures in Writing, Reading & Book Culture

5:45 a.m. … August 14, 2012 … First day with a new novel

I started my new novel this morning. There had been enough looking, reading, thinking, noodling, characterizing-in-the-mind, visual planning, and building scenes via the Stepping Stone method. The story had begun to jump out from my mind at odd moments and with real zeal. It was time to start writing from Page 1.

There used to be the day when I could slip a piece of paper into a typewriter and fire away. Now, the first thing to do is create a document with all the proper settings. So that took me five or eight minutes. Then I was really ready. A cut & paste from the master notes file (having climbed to 234 pages) into the new document of about a page, and I was off. Slowly. Deliberately. Wondering why I had said this, who could say that other than whom I’d intended (because it was a better line for someone else), and finding out just where this scene was taking place.

This first section is something I wrote little more than three years ago, when, after having been to a Prague outdoor market, I saw an older couple moving along the line of kiosks. The man’s hand gripped his wife’s upper arm. He was obviously in need of help to negotiate the cobblestones. A cigarette dangled from his outer hand. Yes, the generation that smoked, always and without end, till death do they part. He didn’t look too bad, actually. Just … blind.

From that moment on a street corner in Prague, I suddenly got the kernel of novel at which its roots dug in with this thought: what does it take for a woman to hold onto a blind man for 40 or 50 years? What kind of devotion? Is it only love? Are they a good match any longer? What has happened in their lives — in their combined life together especially — that finds them here, together, arm in arm and talking happily to each other.

That’s what the story is about. And it’s going to take me 3 or 4 years to answer those questions.

Stay tuned.

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