After failing to market my memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On: A Memoir of Madness, Suicide, and Recovery, by querying dozens of agents and publishers for almost two years, I have decided it's time to write another book about another subject and in another genre. Of course I won't give up trying to get my memoir published - it tells the story of my son's bipolar disease, his suicide, and how I've managed to live through it -because it applies to so many folks out there. In fact, it is especially relevant now because of the increasing incidents of post traumatic stress disorder in the military.
But enough said about that book for now. It's time to write about the book I plan to write next.
I took my idea from the family history my husband has been compiling for several years. He recently received several pages written by my aunt - my dad's sister - from one of her adult children (my aunt died several years ago well past age 90). She had devoted almost of page of typewritten text to what she claimed was a friendship with one of her high school teachers that worried her family so much they moved her from their small town in downstate Illinois to the west side of Chicago. They were not upset because this teacher was taking her to school plays and dances - that kind of behavior wasn't forbidden like it is now - they were upset because he wasn't Jewish. In fact, her brother (my dad) who was already living in Chicago told their parents if they didn't move her away from the small town with the small Jewish population and few Jewish men, he would move her to Chicago himself.
What intrigued me was all the space on the page that she devoted to this relationship and that she remembered after all these years both his first and last name. I began to think that she might have regretted leaving that relationship in favor of a marriage to a man who was in my mind a kind of milk toast kind of character who never really provided for her very well. The Jewish man she ended up with might have been a second choice - a choice she really had no control over.
So, my novel is about the choice my main character really wanted to make. No, I won't give away the ending yet. Let it suffice to say that she goes through a lot of soul searching and arguing with her parents and brother before a resolution is achieved. My main character starts out as a young high school girl in the early 1920s who develops into an increasingly strong and willful young woman.
Just two weeks ago I took Jessica Barksdale Inclan's UCLA 4-day workshop, Writing the First Novel, and got lots and lots of encouragement. But, I also found out how daunting the writing of a novel is. The research alone - especially about the several locales both in Europe and Illinois and what was going on during the time in history I'm writing about (1900-1935) - could take years. That's what makes me hesitate. I don't know if I have enough years left to complete it. It's great to be this ambitious, and I might kick myself if I don't do it - especially if I still have a lucid mind for the next 10 years or so, but should I use what precious time I have left on such a huge project?
Well, like I said, since I would kick myself if I live to be a lucid 100-year old not having done it (my mother lived to 94 so I have a good chance), it's time to get started. I'll keep you posted on my progress.
However, I also don't want my blogging to take away from my novel writing. I can see how I could get totally bogged down in writing about it rather than writing it that I'll never get anything done. So, yes, I'll keep you posted, but not too often.
Causes Madeline Sharples Supports
Didi Hirsch Community Mental Health Center, Culver City, CA
Vistamar School, El Segundo, CA
Crossroads School, Santa Monica, CA (Endowment in...