Yesterday, my Beach Ball collaborator, Melva, and I made our meant-to-be-monthly pilgrimage to the NECRWA chapter meeting. The topic this month, appropriately enough for January, was beginnings. I did not take  any notes during the presentation, because I spent the entire time working on notes for the Beach Ball, in the detachable pages of my all purpose Moleskine, with my newest favorite and now indispensable tool, a mechanical pencil. Melva and I talked out a couple of scenes we didn’t fully have a handle on, on our own, but when we put our heads together, boom, there they were. So, I wrote stuff.

Melva and I agreed that we both do our best work on the Beach Ball on these drives, two hours there and two hours back. We both talk fast, ideas pinging off each other like the silver ball in a pinball machines, flashing lights and bells going off all around us. She drives. I write notes on what we create, together, transcribe them when I get home, and I send the neat, orderly pages her way.

The pages I write in the passenger seat are not neat or orderly. they are a swath of bullet points, scrawled in mechanical pencil, with smudges from erasures and the odd eraser crumb wherever it falls. I have only recently discovered the joy of mechanical pencil. When I use pencil, I can erase instead of cross out, which means I don’t have to lose any space when something better comes along. Yesterday, I ran out of lead before we ran out of road. I could go on with some other writing implement, but I couldn’t reach my tote with my seatbelt still in place.

Melva said there might be some pencils in her purse. My left hand curled nervously around the red Bic Cristal I keep in my raincoat pocket for dire emergencies such as this one. I hadn’t wanted to use ballpoint in this particular Moleskine, my first ever 8×5 Volant, moss colored cover, perforated pages, so that I could write on any project on the go, take out those pages, and transcribe/file them where they actually go, but we were on a roll, and I didn’t want to break the flow.

Thankfully, Melva was right. She did have pencils. The first, I snapped the lead three or four times, as I put pencil to paper, but then I changed to the other. Cue choir of angels. Melva informed me that said pencil was school issue (she is a college professor) and not sold to civilians. Figures. I will purchase others.

We covered a lot of ground on this trip, both literally and figuratively. We joked that we should rent an RV, drive to California, from NY, where I live, or MA, where she lives, and by the time we reach the other coast, we’ll have a first draft done. Then we’d turn around and revise on the way back. Either that, or we drive around in big circles until we have a book. What matters is that we filled  a bunch of pages on this trip. Today, those pages rest.

Today, I write on Her Last First Kiss, a scene that was not in the original draft, but makes narrative sense. Maybe more importantly than that, it will be fun. I hope it will be fun. It’s got Hero, it takes place in a sort of setting I always find fun to write, and I know N is expecting that puppy, so I had better get it written today, but that doesn’t mean there has to be pressure.

What it does mean is that I unplug, settle in with open notebook and take pencil or pen and word-doodle. No, that’s not right. Story-doodle. I’m doodling story, even though I use words to do it (using interpretive dance would require rearranging the furniture and possibly obtaining proper footwear.) I need to make a few wrong turns, double back, get the lay of the land, before I can finalize my map and then follow it to my destination. There may be a few side trips and loop-de-loops while I get my bearings, make sure this scene feels/sounds like Hero, not some random placeholder character. I definitely don’t want him sounding like Guy, who made himself very much at home in my head for most of yesterday. I think that makes my brain their time share, but I am fine with that.




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