The Dream of Writing in Solitude

This week, I began chapter three of my fourth, and final novel of the Blackbeard Mysteries. I began chapter two, two years ago. I started out great guns, then, I got stuck on a single, short sentence. One of my characters said something and I had no idea what he meant. I had a choice. Erase what he said. Or, go with what he said, and try to figure out what he meant. But, I couldn’t go any further in the book until I understood what I had just written. It was very profound; I knew that. And I understood it was the underlying theme of the story behind the entire series. I spent seven full months writing out various thoughts and scenarios. None of them worked. By the time I was finished I had rewritten it over a hundred different ways, but none of them described what the character was really saying. I still didn’t fully comprehend the meaning. I actually rewrote the entire manuscript, including many of the other chapters that were completed, 130 times. Each time I redo the entire manuscript, I give it an alphabet letter. When I get to Z, I begin with AA. I am now on FFFFF. But! After returning to Ocracoke Island and spending a month in a very private home where I’m free to walk about and talk to myself, I spent a lot of time next door at the Community Cemetery with my old friend Clinton Gaskill. Clinton never lived to see the book in print, but was my living editor the entire time I was writing the first book over a span of fifteen years. He still teaches me in my thoughts. We had a talk one day, and there it was. The answer. I finally understand what it is that flowed from young Mark Tillet’s (a character in the book) mind, through my fingers, and onto the computer, and I’ve been able to move on with the novel. That one simple sentence, (you better read the four books to understand it) helps explain so many of life’s questions. By the way; For those of you who believe characters are the total creations of authors, they are not. Authors may structure their characters from real life and even add emotions and empathy from our own experiences, but once a character has made a home in their new world and made friends with the other characters they’re to be involved with, the author must step back into the film lot, stand behind the camera, and direct. Oh, the author is allowed to make suggestions now and again, but half the time the characters object and end up doing it their way. I live full time in two places now. In the world where the telephone drives me crazy, and in the world of Book Four. The kids are great. They’ve really grown and matured. They just can’t seem to stay out of trouble. Start reading Mystery at Blackbeard’s Cove then Blackbeard and the Sandstone Pillar; When Lightning Strikes then Blackbeard and the Gift of Silence and you’ll be ready when I am. I hope. Happy Holidays, y’all. Audrey Penn