“Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go.” – E. L. Doctorow
A blank page. A cursor flashing – mocking you as you sit in your office and stare at the cool, blue glow. The idea you have mapped out so elegantly in your head struggles to find its way to the delightful dance of your fingertips, as the glide across the keyboard. You know the story. You think you know the story. I have this idea for a story. Let me start this story. The mocking cursor pulsates in your head until finally you begin to type that first sentence. That first paragraph. That first page. That first chapter. Progress. Then, the artist’s reward calls attention to itself and you abandon this idea, almost as soon as you dove into it. This is shit.
I have taken this journey many times. I begin this journey with characters on a blank page and begin to dress them, learning about where they came from and whom they have known. In 2007 after a four-year journey with Brenden Hanley, I met Dan Lemon. We’ll meet Brenden Hanley again in the future, but it was time to say goodbye to him. He kept trying to tell his story through a screenplay, and it just was not working. He was nominated for a top drama award, but I was frustrated. I needed to start from nothing again. Dan poked his mustached, fat head through the screen and said, “My name is Dan Lemon. I work in retail sales. I had a comfortable life.”
I was used to writing characters that are twenty-something romantics. Dan is a middle-aged, down on his life neurotic. This was new. This was exciting. Then, progress hit me, I felt bad for Brenden and left Dan in the depths of the computer. Left him there to never develop. To never be explored. I went back to my crutch and tried to force Brenden back into a screenplay. I studied screenplays more and more and more and worked him to death, quite literally. But, I still longed for this exploration. Dialogue is one of my favorite parts of writing. It is where our characters develop their personalities. Writers know the personalities inside of ourselves, but it is our responsibility to show you what that is when you read. Dialogue is a great way to convey that. I’ve always been drawn to character driven stories. So, I felt limited by Brenden.
I showed my abandoned exploration to my neighbor. A new friend at the time. One of the best of friends at this time. She read it. She asked me when I was going to be writing more. I hadn’t planned on it yet, or ever, I guess. Just one of those things. I started it, here it is and that is that. But when I was feeling that need, I thought about that conversation that we had in her kitchen and it really stuck with me and I found that file. I found where I had stuck Dan in purgatory and opened it. I read what I had quickly. I’ll be honest and tell you that it was supposed to be a completely different story than what it turned out to be. But, since it launches in two days, let’s let it breathe and we can discuss that at another time. I’m happy where it went.
When Life Hands You a Lemon debuts on September 24, 2015 on Frenchpress Bookworks. The book follows Dan Lemon, who is a man of routine who has unknowingly lost his way. One fateful afternoon at work, he is introduced to three criminals who take him hostage and shake up his schedule. Dan now only has one choice, to confront his life’s fears, failings and wants. When I went back to the book, I really only had three components – the beginning, the final image and the ponderance of existentialism.
The beginning was written. The final image came to me as I was driving along and I was listening to DJ Shadow. “Blood on the Motorway” began playing on my aged flat, plastic, circle, music maker machine. I listened to the entire nine minutes and immediately had the entire closing scene and led me to ponderance of existentialism. Everything in the middle, I had to learn as I went. This was a first for me. I usually have my stories mapped. I have each arc and each act exactly as I would like them to make the process easier. I have to tell you, when I typed the final sentence on the first draft and clicked save – I was emotional.
That was a first for me. And I am so glad that I now get to share that journey with you. I can’t wait to hear what you think about the book. I am okay if you absolutely hate it. I can accept that. I will be happy if you like it. I will be delighted if you love it. The book asks a lot of questions. A lot that I’m not sure that I can answer and I’m not sure that you can answer. That’s the beauty of interpretation.
I’m anxious for Thursday. This is something that I went to college for and something that I have always wanted to do. If you been on the journey with me before, I thank you for being a friend and a fan. If you are new to me, new to my writing, new to my “personal picture show,” I hope to keep you around. I am working on a new book that will be quite different from When Life Hands You a Lemon. With that said, there are definitely more dick and fart jokes in my new manuscript so far. I hope to see you around as I visit book fairs and you can always reach out to me as I practice my anti-social behavior on social media. I will continue to explore and learn everyday that I can.
Please to enjoy.