the long process

If you look carefully, you will see the date on the top of this notebook page is February 20, 2005. What you don't see is that I have other notebooks with dates from 1995 on them, and they are all part of my working-out of Hang The Moon, which is a working title for the 1966 novel.
I had finished Each Little Bird That Sings when I was writing in this notebook. It was on the cusp of being published. I had turned my attentions to Hang The Moon, but I was still having trouble getting a grip on it.

On the surface, the novel -- which takes place in 1966 -- is about two girls, cousins, and their trip from Mississippi to Memphis to find Elvis Presley, whom one of them is convinced (with reasonable proof) is her father.

But when I scratch beneath the surface, which I'm compelled to do every time I sit down to write it, I find that this book is just... enormous. It has overwhelmed me for years.

Under that surface story is more than I have been able to capably write about. This story has been asking for expression, and I have been trying to hear it. For fifteen years, ghosts have been whispering to me, revealing the deeper story to me, and I have been saying "not yet, not yet. I can't go there yet."
But it's time to go there now. There comes a point when it's worse not to go there than it is to say yes, and to step up to the plate. Below the surface of this 1966 story, running underneath how much Birdie loves Elvis and Margaret loves the Beatles, is a book about cosmic ideas, deeply-rooted beliefs, and love. There is pain and suffering. And deep, abiding joy as well.I'll be talking about the writing process (well, mine, anyway) tonight at 7pm at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, at the Center for Children's and Young Adult Literature. If you're nearby, I hope you'll come out and tell me what you know about love and hope and courage. I need all these things now, as I navigate this revision of Hang The Moon. I am so looking forward to seeing your faces, hearing your stories, and gathering some of your strength for the days ahead.

7 comments:

  1. Thank you for this glimpse into your world!

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  2. I'm looking forward to hearing your process.
    Winged Writer

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  3. Wish I could hear about your process first-hand, but I'm wishing you well this evening, and sending you prayers for strength.

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  4. It's interesting to me that your story takes place the year before the Summer of Love.

    You might be interested in this free mind-mapping software, Deborah. It helps me when I suffer from "creative constipation": http://freemind.sourceforge.net/wiki/index.php/Main_Page.

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  5. love THIS blog entry---thank!

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  6. Ooops! Make that, "thanks!"

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  7. Jef -- thanks for the mind mapping software; I'll check it out. Thanks, all, for the lovely comments. And thanks for sharing them here, where all can read them. Most of my comments come to my gmail address, which is fine, but I love having them here, on the blog, so they are archived.

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Howdy. Moderating comments to prevent spam. I'm sure you're not that. Thanks for your thoughts! Write on, warrior on. Make art.