February 18, 2013
According to the wonderful Robin Black, this is Work-in-Progress Day, an idea making the rounds of my writer friends’ Facebook status notes. It originated, Robin said, with the wonderful Beth Kephart, and was conveyed to her by the also wonderful Elizabeth Mosier. I will have to take Robin’s word that those authors are wonderful, because I never heard of them until today. And that’s what’s wonderful about Facebook — that my connections with the generous writers who have friended me, some I’ve been in workshop or class with, but some on the basis of nothing more than a fan letter, have introduced me, link by link by link, to other writers whose published works and works-in-progress and musings on craft are teaching me, page by page, to become wonderful myself.
And I think the desire to write this post, coupled with a deadline a scant ten days hence and the fact that most of tomorrow will be given over to an event that will keep me from the keyboard, kept me at it today.
My work-in-progress is part of a work-in-progress. I am writing a novel I started on October 3, 2011, when a character began speaking to me after I read a nonfiction essay about a widow’s struggle with eating after her husband died. It involves two priests, a 15-years-ordained 42-year-old having some struggles with doubts, the 83-year-old pastor emeritus with whom he lives, and a young woman, the hungry widow, who changes their lives. I have devoted the last several months to developing the character of the old priest. Here’s the first paragraph. It begins in medias res on the morning that the young widow has a car accident at the bottom of the driveway and comes into the rectory for assistance.
When Father Henry started down the stairs that morning, he found himself having to apply special concentration. Down was harder than up, especially when he hadn’t put on his shoes, only the worn plaid slippers that sometimes slipped off his toes. He held the bannister and led with his left leg, and then brought his right foot down beside it. He had taken to counting the steps as he climbed or descended. He didn’t know why. He was on Step Number 7 when he heard the voices. He glanced down at himself to be sure he was fully dressed.
Do visit the writers I’ve linked to above, to see their works-in-progress.