2 Days - Splitting Atoms

Thanks so much for those lovely, supportive, "I've been there, too" emails, y'all. It helps to know you're not alone in whatever you're doing or going through, eh? It helps me, anyway.

Today I'm back on the horse. I'm writing forward. I have figured out Jo Ellen's letter -- I know more about her now, I know exactly what she's doing and why, and it makes total sense to the overall story arc and characters. It only took me two and a half-months to figure this out.

I seem to be cursed to write chronologically. I cannot "skip this part" and go ahead and finish the book. I've never been able to do that. I can, however, chart out the rest of the book, what I think happens, and how.... and I have done that, this past two months as I've wrestled with the letter-knot.

I've also gathered lots of the extra material I will need for this novel, and have placed much of it within the narrative. I have smoothed and polished and have revised scenes, have moved some around, have figured out the path. And, I have asked some trusted readers to tell me what works. I've now figured out the knot I've been stuck against for so long, have written that letter, have done loads of research on where I'm going with it, and can now write my next chapter and race for that oh-so-close ending.

I've done this in the midst of travel for work, family upheaval, illness, smooth sailing and rough, and I've done it by showing up at the page regardless of how I feel or how much I accomplish. Some days I show for longer than others. Some days I am barely there -- but I am there. Some days I feel as if I accomplish nothing. Even yesterday, when all I could do was stare at the page, I read.

I read about 1962. I revisited my research. I did more research with the books I had available. I have a brand-new biography of Harry Truman from the library. My used copy of the 1956 edition of OUR FRIEND THE ATOM just arrived. My oral history of women in the civil rights movement in the early '60s was at my elbow. So was Howard Zinn's A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES. I unearthed my photo archive of those 16 days in October, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and I chose the just-right photos, as I'm at that part in the narrative where it makes sense to do that.


I worked yesterday, even if I didn't move forward. And now, today -- forward motion! I have today, Friday. Saturday. All day Sunday (Day 0) to polish up and write a letter and send off this draft of this novel first thing Monday morning. I can do it. And I will. Thanks, friends.

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