“On your blog, why don’t you publish bits of it as you go along,” someone suggested, knowing that I am writing my first novel. I was opposed to doing so then, but I am sharing now, although it’s not something I plan to do often. I am doing so because I wept as I wrote this morning.
In a way, I was astonished at myself for crying over words printed on a computer screen about a fictional character. But when I thought more about it, I considered again that novels come from the author’s mind–in this case, from my mind, and that the people in my novel are real to me because in one sense of the word, they are real people. I have seen their lives. I have cried with them, and I have clapped at their accomplishments. I have eaten meals with such people, and have sat in conferences with them. I’ve shared their struggles.
So, from a first draft of my first novel with the working title, The Soul of Abram Clark, I bring you part of chapter 10.
Richard beat on the floor, his two black fists, hammers.
For two hours, Richard and Sten sat on the floor immersed in conversation that was a mix of Richard’s vomiting out hate and fear and of Sten’s projecting hope and understanding. There was no balance in the conversation: Sten listened long and easy, while from Richard spewed a torrent of words and emotions, as though the walls of Hoover dam had split asunder and the pent-up Colorado had rushed to cover land and houses and farms and roads. Or perhaps the escaping river was of oil, black and greasy, that crashed boulders about and that decimated life and that wasted the landscape.
Finally, Richard was finished, emptied. His face was swollen, his eyes almond slits. The two men sat in silence on the living room floor of the Shepler home.
“Richard, Marjorie and I have spoken about this, and we are inviting you to live here with us, permanently. We believe in you and in your potential for success—even for greatness. There is something special inside you—something that you probably are not able to recognize yourself, although somewhere deep inside, my words may resonate with a tiny spark in your heart. Life has tried to beat it out of you and has tried to destroy you. You’ve been kicked around by your mother and abandoned by your father. Drug dealers have pawed over your young body and over your impressionable mind. You have been mutilated and bloodied.
But listen to me, Richard.” Sten again placed his hand on Richard’s shoulder. Richard’s head banked over. His eyes were closed. “You are a survivor. You are of strength. You are steel and of integrity.”
Richard lifted his head and looked straight now into Sten’s face.
“There is an intangible factor within you, Richard. You are destined to make a mark on this world—a positive mark. You will make this world a better place.”
Richard stared, unblinking. Tears began tracking down his mutilated face. He did not move. In an infinitesimal motion, he elevated his head.
“I’m investing in you, and I am positive my return will be of a thousand-fold,” Sten finished.
There you are, the first ones to read from my developing novel. I’m interested in hearing anything you might have to say.
(I don’t know where all those extra quotation marks came from, but I cannot get rid of them. Please ignore them. 🙂 )