For the past two months I’ve been writing a book that has turned into an obsession. It’s more than just a story, but to call it a novel sounds pretentious. But at 16 chapters with no end in sight, I suppose it qualifies. Every time I try to summarize what it’s “about”, it ends up sounding ridiculous. Let me try again…
It’s about a man who has a prodigious ability for winning games of chance, a gambling savant, who meets and falls in love with a woman who is his total opposite in every way that matters and who happens to be clairvoyant. Eventually they end up hating each other and getting a divorce, about as ugly a divorce as can be imagined since it involves, infidelity, bankruptcy, and a suicide attempt. After the protagonist’s parents pass away, he moves back into their home whereupon he starts getting nightly visits from his ex-wife in his dreams. Unknown to him, his ex-wife is seeing him in her dreams every night as well. After a while it is difficult to differentiate between reality and dreams, as the two of them try to deal with issues of forgiveness, the possibility of redemption, and the spectre of loss.
See what I mean?
But here’s the cool thing, writing a story is a little like being God. You create these characters, endow them with personality, then turn them loose to interact with each other. Sometimes you are pleased with them and the decisions they make, other times you want to smack the hell out of them. I imagine that God feels the same way looking down upon us. The big difference obviously is that I can write my characters out of trouble. In the real world, what’s done is done. Still, it has been great fun creating an entire universe of people whose fate is in my hands. I spend half my time researching details. What exactly was the color of the steel in that great big arch bridge on I-95 leading into Maine? Google Earth to the rescue, green! Then I write a couple thousand words a night, and when I’m not writing, I’m thinking about writing.
Two things I’ve come to understand over these past two months. First, I fully understand why so many novelists are crazy. Writing changes you, transforms you into someone else, a not entirely pleasant experience. Secondly, it is great fun. Creating something, no matter how amateurish, is an exhilarating experience. Although my story is not auto-biographical by any stretch, it does contain much of who I am. I can only write what I know, so my experiences inform my characters. I have no idea how it will all end. I feel as though I’m about half way done.
I’ll keep you posted.