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Thursday, August 4, 2011

Living with Other People in Your Head for Five Years

The other day, I realized I’ve been writing on this series of novels and stories for the past five years. The novel-length manuscript in the twenty year-old hard drive in the basement has already been rewritten in my head and notes. Its hero makes a brief appearance in SEVEN DAYS, the first book I’ve completed and am editing.
Friends and family are used to me zoning out in the middle of a discussion, grabbing my journal and pen to scribble something down or pointing out something and saying, “That’s so [fill in the blank with the character’s name].” They even egg me on, sending me quotes and links for articles or pictures.  My husband is used to dubbing all sorts of odd things onto DVDs for my “research.”
He has supported my dreams, laughing at me (of course), but saying he anxiously awaits the day I can make him a “kept man.” For Christmas 2006 and my birthday 2007, he bought me a laptop. It was an awesome statement of faith for which I will ever be grateful. Hundreds of files are there, all backed up on duplicate flash drives in secure locations. Most everything is now done on the much faster, flashier desktop in the office, but I’ll still use the laptop to type in notes or do quick edits while watching TV.
You all are backing up all your files, right?
But back to my imaginary friends. These characters are almost as real to me as my local friends, sometimes. I’ve certainly spent more time with these fictional phantoms, laughing at them, crying at their heartbreaks, rejoicing when they come up with just the right witty retort or when they’re in danger of exploding from so much love. Songs will conjure up scenes or intense feelings at odd moments. My husband works evenings and for my last job, I travelled a great deal. I was never alone, though. I’d just invite one of my peeps to tell me a story. It’s been my honor to transcribe them to share with you.
At their heart, these are all love stories, though other topics and literary events happen along the way. It starts with love, though. Lizzy and three of her four sisters are in Vegas for a bachelorette party. Will helps her during an emergency and she ends up marrying him, bringing home the ultimate souvenir.
The next seventy years are mapped out in my timeline. You see, his younger brother hooks up with her younger sister and there are kids, friends and ancestors’ stories to tell. Oh, yes, I have two historical novellas started, along with a juvenile for Grace’s story.
It’s been a wild and wonderful journey. My “real life” persona cross-stitches and I’ve given that obsession to Lizzy/Elizabeth. I’d like to share pieces I’ve done that remind me of my characters.
At the top of the article is Love Is Patient by La-Dee-Da. Elizabeth stitches it for Mary Margaret and Rob’s Christmas gift. It’s ironic, because Rob is dyslexic, but once he finds out the Bible verse, he’s very moved.

Will—graduated from The Naval Academy and loves to sail, so I chose Bass Harbor Lighthouse (Maine), by Cross My Heart for him. He sees it finished at Elizabeth’s apartment and she offers it to him for his office. She figures it would be appreciated and not sold at a yard sale for $5 (every stitcher’s nightmare).

Elizabeth—is fierce, but struggles to believe this new husband of hers can really keep her heart safe. This is an unfinished piece, I Believe, by Mosey & Me. It reads:
I believe
That myth is more potent than history
That dreams are more powerful than facts
That hope always triumphs over experience
That laughter is the only cure for grief
And I believe that love is stronger than death.

Mary Margaret—loves to garden and has hidden in her garden, at her piano, in a book, on a computer, for all of her thirty years. She sees her sister happy, gets her dream job, meets the love of her life and comes into her own in the second book, SEVEN MONTHS. This is Calla Lilies by Sue Powell and Mary Margaret has deep red ones in her wedding bouquet.
And finally,

Rob—the hardest to pick. He’s very old world, very sensual, so I chose one of Patricia Anderle’s Gothic Samplers. This piece saved our lives, literally. Our car ran out of gas outside of Atlanta, GA, in 2000. We made it to an off-ramp, but it was after midnight and cars were whipping past . I had this in my embroidery frame and we held it to flag drivers and keep us safe. Some extraordinary people helped us that night and I’d like to think Rob would be the one who stopped for us.
So, thanks for joining me on this extraordinary journey of the past five years with these wonderful characters. Though I’ll have to return to The Real World fairly soon (meaning getting a “real job” again), I promise to concentrate on editing and polishing the first two books, which are essentially written. Please follow me on my Facebook Fan Page and you may Friend me on my personal page, if you’d like. I’ll be here, trying to post a little more regularly on this blog, too.
Because, as Mary Margaret says, “Fate and faith puts us where we need to be.”
Love ya, Julee