A lady wanted to know at a meeting of writers if workshops were of interest. Specifically did I attend the one on character development, or characterization, or some such. My answer was that I can hardly control the characters I already have. NOTHING would outrage my characters more than to try to manipulate them in ANY way: they come as they are. And they are demandingly impatient to be told about. Once they’re written, though, they remain fairly content.
August 2009 comes to mind. I had been living in the moment—and writing it—having begun a second book. Then I took off two weeks to set up a website and format for publication, my first book.
The writing stopped as my family was visiting friends near Hanover, New Hampshire, many years ago. The coolness of the air, the scent of hay, the old farmhouse built during the 1700s are etched vividly in my memory. The evening when another boy and I took two girls to the all-night drive-in outside White River Junction, Vermont, and I was so dumb I thought you went to a drive-in to watch the movies—will never be forgotten. Suddenly Last Summer with Elizabeth Taylor was the second movie. The others were—here she is again!
For the last six mornings she’s been waking me up. Every morning. Waking me up.
LYNN—Did you enjoy the movies?
ME—At least as much as you did.
LYNN—That was a night to remember.
Trust me: it is remembered.
You haven’t written one word!
It’ll be written.
You promised me August. Where am I! I’m due in August!
So it’s August—
No promise was made. But I’m looking forward to writing about you.
Tell me why.
For many reasons
You are interesting.
Do you love me?
You know I do.
Surprised you, didn’t I.
I would like to ask you one question.
Just one question.
The hell do you need a website for?
I’m not going to discuss my business with you.
August is almost over!
August. You promised me August.
Yeah. I don’t think more than six words passed between us. Except when we were all joking around in the car.
LYNN—I only saw you two or three times.
ME—You remember exactly how many times you saw me. Tuesday night with the others, at the farm. White River Junction was Wednesday night. Thursday night, back at the farm, you didn’t say three words to me.
LYNN—My damn boyfriend was standing there!
ME—That wasn’t the only reason.
Do you think I’m ugly?”
Do you consider me pretty?
That other one, you’ve been working on all summer—
Nobody has been working on her all summer. You know that.
She’s the pretty one.
Lynn, I will tell you something that I shouldn’t because it’s going to be written. It is this: when I saw you the first time, your boyfriend with his Thunderbird, I thought you had a good thing going. Afterwards, when you came by the last time on Thursday night, I understood that he had a good thing going.
You are interesting to me.
Well say something.
You are welcome.
I needed you to say that.
I want you to write about me.
You’ve already promised.
And I will.
Do you love me?
You know I do.