Sunday, June 27, 2010

TSS: I am ready to write.....

This has been a whirl-wind of a week.  After quite a few misunderstandings, Mom finally came home from the hospital on Monday afternoon.  She will have a home health nurse visit her 2-3 times a week, physical therapist to come 2-3 times a week and occupational therapist to come 1-2 times a week.  In addition, we have hired one of my ex-students to stay with her during the night for the next week or so.  She is insecure about getting up in the middle of the night, and this will certainly give her some peace of mind.

Once I got Mom settled, I had to start thinking about packing and preparing for our mini-getaway this weekend. Yesterday was our 28th wedding anniversary (am I really that old?!) and while we could not afford to do much, we did want to celebrate in a small way.  If all goes as planned, we left on Thursday afternoon and drove about five hours to St. Louis where we had dinner on "The Hill" --- the Italian neighborhood.  We woke early on Friday morning to visit the zoo (and hopefully try out some photography skills), and then after a quick lunch we headed toward Chicago.  Saturday morning was to be spent at the Art Institute followed by a deep dish pizza at Giordanno's.  We were uncertain of the evening plans.  Today we were hoping to visit the Shedd Aquarium in the morning - again, uncertain of afternoon plans - but heads toward Dyersville, IA by early evening.  Tomorrow we hope to visit the Field of Dreams set (I absolutely LOVE that movie) and then head home by way of Ames, Iowa (cute little college town).  While the vacation is not at all exotic, I am really looking forward to it.

Last week's TSS yielded several comments from you that basically encouraged me to review the books that I read --- not to worry about the limited appeal or the writing style.  I must say that Margot hit the nail on the head when she surmised that the English teacher in me feels the need to write the "perfect" review.  While I have been trying to shed that perfectionist persona --- old habits are hard to break.

Today I thought I would ease into this "imperfect" body and write some very quick reviews of the novels I have read as "research" for my own story; however once I started writing this post, I realized that it was going to be way too long to hold anyone's attention.  So.....I thought I would give you the story's background today, and save the mini-reviews for tomorrow.

This entire project is a huge lesson in letting go of perfection and just enjoy the journey.  I have always liked writing non-fiction, particularly research papers, but fiction has seemed like a huge leap into the abyss.  However, since I have consented to teach a creative writing class this fall (my co-teacher has since resigned from the school and moved to Texas --- so I will now be teaching the class solo), I think that I should experience writing a twelve chapter novel, since that is what I will be expecting my students to do.  I suppose I want to try to dispel the myth, "those who can't do - teach" and instead replace it with "I can do, and choose to teach"

So, here is the background to my story.  I have known since February that I would be attempting this project, and at that time I thought I had a story ready to develop.  It was going to be a fictional story based on a thirty second scene that I witnessed about ten years ago at my daughter's junior high.  While I still think this is a viable story idea, and one I might pursue later, I wasn't quite sure that it would fit within the curriculum's parameters of an "adventure" novel; it was more a character driven novel with deep thematic overtones.

Then one day an idea just came to me.  I'm not sure how, or why, or when, but I was immediately struck with the overwhelming feeling that this is the story I am supposed to write.  What is even more bizarre is that this story could be categorized as a YA historical fiction, time travel novel.  Why is this bizarre?  Because I never read historical fiction and the realist in me does not enjoy the concept of time travel (in fact, I never really understand it and feel rather stupid as a result).  And yet....the more I research this time period (Paris, France circa 1880 among the Impressionist painters, particularly Degas, Renoir, and Cassatt) the more interested I become.

My novel will focus on a 15-year-old American girl on vacation with her family in Paris.  She is fond of the theater and hopes to one day perform in the Broadway production of Phantom of the Opera.  While deciding what to do on their first day in Paris, Phoebe wishes to go to the Paris Opera House, while her father insists they visit the Musee d'Orsay.  My protagonist is typically moody and pouts the entire morning.  While looking at some of the Impressionist art she comes across the Degas painting, The Ballet Rehearsal on Stage.  Phoebe closes her eyes and tries to imagine herself on that famous stage.  When she opens them ---- well, you guessed it -- she is there.  Her primary adventure will be to find her way back to the 21st Century, but she will have to experience several other smaller adventures while doing that (those have not  yet been revealed to me, but I am hoping that once I start writing, the story will begin to take shape).

The teacher in me wants to have some educational element to the story, so I am thinking that each chapter title will be the name of a famous painting from that time period.  And the episodic adventure will be based on the painting's subject.  For example, Degas painted pictures of the ballet, cafe-singers, horse races, and the circus.  There must be some adventure that Phoebe can experience at each of these locales, right?

So...there is my story idea, now shared with the entire world wide web.  I hope it doesn't sound too lame.


  1. What a fascinating idea! I, like you, have never been "into" time travel, although I have seen some movies that have intrigued me.

    I like the way an incident can transform itself into a whole scenario, as you described. Embellishing the original incident and filling it in with enough for an adventure takes creativity, which you certainly have.

    Good luck, and I'll be watching for more...

    Here's my salon:

  2. Molly, first of all, I hope that you and your husband are having a wonderful getaway. I think it sounds perfect. Happy 28th! My husband and I will celebrate our 30th in August.

    Secondly, glad you got your Mom settled for a bit. Sounds like she will have a lot of support as she recovers.

    Thirdly, I think your idea for the book is lovely. I would read it for sure. And I have liked time travel books. Good luck. May the writing muses visit you in your dreams! LOL

  3. Happy anniversary! You must have been 12 when you got married! I hope you had loads of fun on your trip!

  4. OMG, Molly, that is a super story idea!! Go for it. I'd buy the book/read the story and I'm not a big time travel fan either. Make sure the publisher puts that Degas painting on the cover.

  5. I think your future book sounds fantastic! Art and time travel sounds like a great combination. Good luck!

  6. Molly, your book sounds like it will be a page-turner for YA's and adults alike. I will look forward to hearing more about it as you proceed. Years ago, I was a member of the reading committee to judge the Oklahoma Library Association's Young Adult Sequoyah award. I loved the time I spent reading and talking about the many wonderful books under consideration and learned that many of them appeal to adults and teens. One that I read recently is A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly.
    BTW, I'm also in the first stages of writing my novel. Since it's about women "in the prime of their lives" :), it will hold little interest to teens. I'm hoping, though, that those who still value friendship will enjoy it, since that's what it's about.

  7. I know how you feel about writing the "perfect" review. As an graduate with a degree in English Lit, I often shudder at the thought of what some of my professors would think about my laid back reviews! Old habits die hard.

  8. First of all - CONGRATULATIONS on 28 years of marriage!! Wow! And it sound like you had a great anniversary celebration.

    Secondly - I am glad to see your mom is getting settled and her care has all been set up. I know how stressful all of that can be.

    And last, but certainly not least - I am so excited to hear about your book! It takes tremendous courage to put all of that out there, and I applaud you. I think it sounds like a fabulous story...and I can't wait to see how you do with it. YAY, Molly!!!

  9. Gosh, Molly...I think that's a fantastic idea for a novel! I would absolutely be intrigued with a novel that had that as a trailer on the back of the book.

    We are always most critical with ourselves (that inside voice that tells us our ideas are stupid) if your inside voice is talking like that, allow me to say that your inside voice is wrong, wrong, wrong. (LOL)

    I can't wait to follow your journey as you write this!

  10. I just love your story idea!! Hope you'll keep us updated on your progress.

  11. No, it certainly doesn't sound "lame". It sounds quite interesting and I for one would love to read it when you're through.

    It's funny how some ideas come to you, isn't it? This sounds like you were meant to write this story. Have fun with it!

  12. Hang in there with your mom and good luck on the writing.

  13. First off--I hope you have a great mini-vacation. We will be taking a mini one this year also due to lack of funds!

    Second, I am so sorry that your mom has been so ill--I hope things stay better.

    Third--your story idea sounds lovely. I hope someday we get to read it!


  14. I really like your story idea! It sounds really lovely!

    Happy anniversary! I hope you guys have a great time!

  15. So glad your mom is home! About writing, research and historical fiction go hand-in-hand, so this will be a fun adventure.

  16. No Molly, it doesn't sound lame at all! I'm going to shake you silly. I think it sounds brilliant, especially the part about making each chapter named after a painting. I am excited for you. Someday I will say "I knew her when she was brainstorming her first novel!". Happy anniversary by the way, and I hope you have a great trip!

  17. Happy Anniversary Molly; hope you had a memorable time. Continued good luck with the writing as well.

  18. Um ... your story idea definitely does NOT sound lame to me. I'd buy that book in a second. Truly. I love the whole idea of your story.

  19. It's a great idea, Molly!I think the best ones do come up and smack us in the head unannounced. Will be excited to follow your progress with this project.

    So glad your mom is home and doing well, with all bases covered. That has to be a huge relief, so I hope that you are making the most of your mini-vacation. It's great to get away!

  20. What a perfect story idea. I love it. I hope I get to read it one day in book format.

    Iowa sounds fantastic. I can't believe you can actually visit the 'Field of Dreams' set. I love that film too.

  21. I think your idea sounds wonderful. I was wondering what the outline of it would be ... and I'm glad you shared it. It will be fun to come along with you on this journey.


  22. What a fascinating idea!! I love it! I'll definitely buy your book, or review it for you. ;-)

    Sending you cheers and wishes! Good luck!

  23. Congratulations on 28 years. Glad to hear your mom is settled in and doing better. Last but not least, I look forward to reading your published novel one day!


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