Since publishing Searching for Alpha Centauri in a ’64 Chevy, I have been anxious to move on to my second book, Sometimes It Feels Like Far. It is all in my head after all. I merely have the pesky task of adding reams of descriptive details and hours of clever, profound dialogue, then putting it all onto paper. That and, er … rewriting it and rewriting it and rewriting it ………..
As Ernest Hemingway put it, “There is really nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”
So, oh yeah, there’s that bleeding part too. And I am finding his words all so true.
Sometimes It Feels Like Far is actually well underway and I am shooting for a December 2019 completion date. That may be a tad ambitious, however, since Searching for Alpha Centauri in a ’64 Chevy took me a full three years to write.
As it is fictional, Sometimes It Feels Like Far is a tougher writing proposition for me. Yes, it is based upon experiences, people, and places that I have known, but venturing into composite and fictional characters is challenging new turf.
This book is inspired, in part, by a passage from Thomas Wolfe’s Of Time and the River:
Man’s youth is a wonderful thing.
It is so full of anguish and of magic,
and he never comes to know it as it is,
until it is gone from him forever.
Poignant words for sure. And while I bristle at the term “coming of age,” this book is, admittedly, partly that: a fictionalized compilation of the adventures, unique experiences, new truths, and loves of a young man in an unfamiliar place. But it is also a story of time, regrets, age, broken promises, second chances, and dealing with mortality—yeah, real light reading stuff. Stir into that the omnipresent influence of a Rocky Mountain wilderness and the quirks of the hearty people who inhabit it, and therein lies the makeup of an equally funny and sad tale.
This period between school and marriage/family are transitional years for many of us, to say the least—a period when we may traverse away from what had been and what will be our life’s norm. Consequently, this can be fertile writing ground. Some young people don a backpack and tour Europe, for example. Some join the Peace Corps. Some enlist in the Armed Services.
I did none of that.
Since the Vietnam War had just ended and our Armed Services were rapidly shrinking, the Carter-era USA was in a deep recession making for few jobs, and I was a flat-out broke college kid, this mid-1970s Midwesterner sought out an adventure that he could afford. That ended up being a construction job where I could find one.
And this happened to be in the Great Inland Northwest.
The forthcoming stories of this quasi-mystical corner of the world and its colorful characters have been rattling around my brain since college days wanting to breath air. Now they will. Sometimes It Feels Like Far is my fictionalized attempt to immortalize a time, place, and people, now lost to me.
In the coming months, I will post some of these stories here as they are completed. They will be unedited—raw so to speak—so be kind. I am well aware of my punctuation and grammatical shortcomings. In the end, I will hire a “fixer” (aka copy editor). Yet despite the predicted flaws, I believe that within the unfinished pages of Sometimes It Feels Like Far you will discover some entertaining “tales-in-the-rough.”
Still nothing ready for “prime time” (nothing printable), but the painful first phase had ended. A “rough draft” is complete — 75,000 words worth, anyway. Like my previous book, this was the toughest phase — each day sitting face to face with a blank piece of paper (or blank screen as it were). There were days that it was hard to keep the ball rolling. I was easily distracted. It felt as though I was trying to form a mountain with a shovel (which I sort of was). Of course I knew all of this going in. And I knew that I just had to muscle through it. I did. But now the process (phase II: rewrite, rewrite, rewrite) actually becomes enjoyable to me, which will in turn make the writing train pick up speed and momentum. I am feeling very confident about this project. I believe I have a good story that now just needs a little tender loving grinding, sanding, and polishing — and maybe a touch-up with a jackhammer here and there.