Blog #5 

The Writing of Lily

An Unedited Journal 

After a long break from writing Lily.

June 1995

            I tried to work on chapter 19 (what to do after the train scene when James’ returns from the war blind) without much success.

            I don’t know what to do next.  I don’t know how the characters will react.  Do I need to get to know my characters better?  It’s been so long. Maybe I need to start at the beginning and read the manuscript to this point to see if anything develops. 

            Should I have White Dove move in with Lily and Harold? How do I show Lily’s discontent? I think one of the reasons I like Lily is because she is so different from me. My boredom never lasts very long. When I was eight I told my mother I was bored and she said, “Go color.” I don’t think I’ve been bored since then. I can always find something I enjoy doing. But Lily isn’t like me—so I must reach into the few times I’ve felt sadness and capture it on the page.

            Possible scenes:  Lily with Tess; Lily with James. Would they accidentally meet or would it be planned? By whom?

            Lily starts to tell James that Luke is his child when Tess walks up.

            I don’t see White Dove.  I went to the library and discovered a wonderful book of paintings of Indians.  I found a picture of White Dove.  Could this be a new beginning? I can only hope.

July 12, 1995

            Began work on Lily again.  White Dove may attend art school in San Francisco.  She will support herself with her art.  She will paint Luke and Willy.  It feels good to be back on track again.

            Concerning my personal life—I was laid off from Eureka Floor Company in March.  Looked for work in April (Reno), put house on the market—no buyers, May: attended Uncle Dave’s memorial service in Washington, lots of dentist and doctor appointments, mammogram, and a breast biopsy.  I feel like I’ve been drilled and probed enough.  After a week of waiting for the results, thank God no cancer.  I helped at Vacation Bible School.  Wrote and submitted small things, tried to syndicate my children’s book review column and wrote a short story, “Teagan.”           

            Had lunch with Jane Peart and went to the library today and found a photo of the cabin (Lily and James secret meeting place in Part 1 of the book).  

            I feel ready to review scene ideas to get started again.  I pasted character photos on a large poster board to place near my computer for inspiration, focus, and encouragement.  I also refined my characters: William is a combination of my great-grandfather and my pastor; James is a combination of one of my uncles and my dad— curly hair, short, strong and wiry; Anna may possibly look like my great-grandmother (a narrow face, slim).  I also did a collage of photos of the houses: Blair House, cabin, Harold and Lily’s company home, etc.  

July 13-14, 1995

            In case Lily becomes a series, I wrote notes on three other books—Anna (the journey from the east coast to the west), Rebecca (Lily’s mother), and Becky (Lily’s granddaughter—Vietnam era).

July 24, 1995

            Ray Bradbury wrote in his book, Zen in the Art of Writing Essays on Creativity, that quantity is practice for quality of writing, so I’m going to try to practice, practice, practice. What I’ll write about I’m not sure, but I hope and plan to really dive into it.

            I’m not sure if this is something I’ve already discovered about Lily or if it’s new.  I have to know what is most important to Lily. It has to be something she has to strive for throughout the book.  I believe it is salvation (although she doesn’t know it).  She thinks James is most important to her.  Or is it striving after happiness?  Does she think she’ll be happy if she leaves Harold and Luke?

            I still need to sort through my ideas for new scenes and plotting of Lily.  I hope to do that tonight.

July 26, 1995

            Here I sit again today feeling no closer to a breakthrough writing Lily than I have for months.  Last night before going to bed I tried to read some of my notes on scenes and character charts to spark my imagination to begin a new chapter, but I don’t feel anything.  I think I need to read the complete manuscript.  Each time I’ve been away from it for a long time, I need to reconnect with where I am and where I need to go. Maybe I’m still not ready to finish Lily although I had hoped to after all these years.

1985 – 1995 Ten Years Recap

            I’ve paid my dues and finally established myself as a freelance writer. The accomplishments I’m proud of are “Our Nightmare with Melanie” published in the Best Seller, The Focus on the Family Guide to Growing a Healthy Home; my home-study course, How to be a Published Writer; writing Sunday school curriculum; writing devotions; 1986 Christian Writer’s Conference Director at College of the Redwoods, Eureka, California; and newspaper columns. I’ve built a firm foundation and now I’m ready to build a skyscraper with published work.

After a long dry spell:

March 9, 1996

     I’m having plot problems with Lily. At first I had Lily leave her children. (She leaves because she is selfish.) Would it be better to ask White Dove to go away with her? She can’t take the boys away from Harold, but if she stays she feels she’ll die a slow death. There are too many memories. She is devastated and feels guilty about her son Willy’s death.  She doesn’t fully recover from depression. Should I have her take medication for it?  (Remember Lily has to be an actor not a reactor.) Write it both ways—her leaving alone and another version of White Dove going with her.

     If she leaves without White Dove, she’ll ask White Dove to write to her about the boy(s). (This was before I decided that Lily would have two sons, Luke and Willy, instead of three as I had planned in the beginning.)

March 23, 1996

            Is the reason I’m having a dry spell because I can’t seem to write the chapter when Lily abandons Harold and her children? (It’s after the fire scene.)  Will the reader like Lily if she leaves her family?  If I have her family send her away instead, then she is a reactor and not an actor.  What am I to do?  I could have them send her to a TB sanitarium.  She won’t arrive, but get off the train and disappear.  I need to do some research on TB during that era.  What if when Willy dies her father and horse also die or even her grandmother? It is too much sadness for Lily.  She is depressed.  Maybe Harold sends her somewhere and that is where she meets someone else—someone who fills her needs for a time.  The whole theme of the book is Lily searching until she finds God’s forgiveness and the gift of eternal life.

April 1996

            More plotting ideas:

     Lily will have several losses in a short time (three years or less): Willy, her horse, her grandmother and her father has a stroke; he is paralyzed and can’t speak, maybe bedridden also.  There is a reversal of rolls, now Lily will be the strong one.  She will nurse her father.  She will talk to him.  I need to show a close relationship.  During this time she will confess her unhappiness with her marriage.  Her father can only listen.  She will hold his hand, feed him, smooth his hair, etc.  When her father dies, Lily goes into a long depression.  Harold will eventually send Lily away to a ranch or an inn (someplace for Lily to recover from her depression).  This is the place Lily finds Sven.  She eventually seeks a divorce from Harold.  It will be a nasty divorce.  When Harold realizes that he has lost Lily, he will not let her take the children with her.  There are arguments.  During one of these arguments, and unwittingly, Lily will reveal that Harold is not Luke’s real father. 

            During the divorce trial Luke will be called into the judge’s chambers and asked if he wants to live with his mother or his father. Luke feels he can be of comfort to his mother.  He will be living with Lily and a witness to the accidental shooting of Sven.

            Now, I feel good about these plot changes from the original synopsis.  I feel the reader will be able to forgive Lily for leaving Harold if she doesn’t abandon her children but fights to keep them.  I also think the reader will like Lily’s compassion for her father during his time of need.  I sure hope so anyway. 

            These plot changes will help me write Part II of the book and possibly even finish this long project someday.

June 15, 1996

            After being unable to write chapter 19 (when James returns from WWI temporarily blind) I now feel ready to tackle the next chapter.

            James will return depressed and not want to be a burden to his family. He doesn’t want to see anyone except Tess.

            Scenes: Tess and James discussing marriage.  James will not marry anyone while he is blind.  Tess’ family has money (they own a lumber mill).  She will find a good blind

school in New York or possibly California.  He will not be a burden to his family.  The school will teach him how to function.  Could James become an asset to his family financially? 

            During this time Lily will be flat on her back hemorrhaging and staying at her grandmother’s house.  She gazes out the window hoping to get a glimpse of James.  Her grandmother will take a cake to the Conti family and Lily will learn all the news of James’ return from her grandmother.  During this time White Dove will bring Luke to visit his mother every day.

October 26, 1996

     A quote taken from How to Enjoy Writing, by Janet Isaac Asimov, pg. 149, 1st paragraph “…the days of Victorian niceties and repression.” This is a great definition of the era I’m trying to write about.

September 18, 1997

I’m discouraged with writing and teaching. I haven’t had many sales and my classes are cancelled due to lack of interest.

November 26, 1997

            Possible Plot Changes:

            Will Tess get TB? Go to a sanitarium? Die?

            When Lily’s murder trial goes badly, White Dove will tell James that Luke is his son. James never stopped loving Lily. He will fight for her. Of course by then Lily has found the Lord—this is the main point of the novel—saved by grace—sins forgiven.  Would it be better if this happens when Lily is stabbed and fighting for her life that James comes into the picture? Or when she is younger?

January 15, 1997

            Judy Pella did a critique of Lily in 1996.  Maybe the reason I’m unable to finish the book is because I’m miss directed. Should James come to Lily’s rescue when she is in prison?  Where is Tess at this time?  Will Lily still be stabbed?  Would it be better if James came to her rescue during the trial?  Will Lily tell James about her salvation experience? 

Aug. 30, 1997

            Think about Scarlet in Gone with the Wind. She was weak in the hospital scene and ran away.  She was weak when Melanie gave birth, but Scarlet found strength. She ran away again when she ran to Tara and wanted to be taken care of by her mother.  That’s when she found strength to take care of everyone else. That strength came from within.

            Judy (Pella) advised to have James and Lily get together. I cannot have minor characters doing more interesting things than Lily, but of course James is a major character. I’m not sure if I want to go this direction.

            White Dove will be a very important character in Lily’s salvation—not her father, grandmother or Agatha. They will plant seeds, but it is White Dove who will witness to Lily.

Published in: on February 18, 2013 at 10:52 pm  Leave a Comment  

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