The Birth of a Novel

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On Sunday morning, August 30th, 1992, I was in a pew in Westminster Presbyterian Church/Buffalo, NY for 10:00 am worship.  Something in the sermon–I cannot recall what specifically–raised a daring thought to mind.  I grabbed the only paper available, the order of service bulletin, and scribbled notes so I wouldn’t forget.  Here’s that page:

The Kairos' Birth

The Kairos' Birth


Tell story w/ the 1-page conclusion first. “Lute watched the break in the clouds ahead on the Yukon River, his skin crawling w/ closer to his Maker as the shaft of sunlight crashed thru gloom all around the river.  He stood up carefully in the bow, cal kidding his friend with “Don’t rock the boat” and grinned at the irony.  He spread his arms wide to feel the cool against his body.  Setting aside–temporarily, he thought–the weight of his mission, the past month’s trials and the coming day’s planet-shaking work, he felt peaceful listened to the plaintive call of the _______.  Then, in an instant, he knew how it was to end.  Lute pulled heard X’s  [character yet to be named] paddles come out of the water, and the unmistakable sound of a Wesson 345 [awaiting research] behind him.  “I’m sorry.”

So it began.  Working off and on, “in spits and furts” over 19 years, it took until Sunday night, July 12, 2002, for the final one-word paragraph to get written.  Those final lines took exactly 15 minutes.  I noted the time at 8:15; it was finished.  The last of the original draft was complete.  I had finally written out the words I had been putting off for weeks.  In my writing diary, what I wrote after “8:15” was “the end.  I got very drunk and cried all night.”

One shouldn’t have to do what I did to a character I brought to life and loved, flaws and all.  But “the moment of inevitability” (as our screenwriting professor called it) could not be side-stepped.

 Is it time you pulled out those writer’s notes of yours and began in earnest?
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