• art,  book,  books,  storytelling,  writing

    A Thing That Happened

    Sometime in the middle of the month, I wrote THE END on the first draft of my novel, THE MOZART GIRL.

    It’s a biopic about Nannerl Mozart and yes, there is a tremendous amount of work to do yet, and I am getting ready to jump with both feet into the revisions now that Christmas has passed.

    I’m excited.

    This is the first completed novel that I’ve written as an adult and it has been a long and meandering journey to do it. I’ve already learned so much about what to do next time, because it has taken me three times as long as it should have to complete what I have. I’ll be throwing out a lot of material, since it’s about twice as long as it ought to be, but I love that, because it means that what I keep will be improved for it.

    It’s the time of year where we set our resolutions and intentions for the new year and there can only be one for me, which is to finish the damn novel already. I took my first steps in this story line four years ago, though the story that I began to write back then was a completely different story arc from the one I settled on. But I have been thinking about the Mozart family for half a decade now and I am, dare I say it, pleased with where the work has taken me.

    This is a book that has been written in the margins of my life, in the crevices formed between other obligations, in the hours after bedtime and before the work day, in the minutes stolen between the endless march of all my other responsibilities. And it has been written in dribs and drabs, sometimes in little spurts of energy, and sometimes in long months of sustained effort that have required sacrificing personal relationships as I raced to a word count that was both arbitrary and exhausting.

    2016 and 2017 were the years I researched my novel. 2018 was the year that I wrote it. 2019 is the year in which I remold it until it is fit to be shown to the world. And then, what will happen then? Will I finally believe that this is a thing that I can do?

  • culture

    The Four Chaplains

    I spent Easter Sunday doing a lot of research into the year 1943, which is the setting for a piece of fiction that I’ve been working on for a while now.  It was a quiet day and I wasn’t feeling too well, so instead of writing, I decided to read the Internet until my headache demanded otherwise.

    I came across several interesting stories, but the one that seemed most appropriate for this very holy weekend of Good Friday, Passover and Easter was that of the Four Chaplains.  The four chaplains were a rabbi, a priest and two Protestant ministers that were shipping out to Greenland on their way towards an undisclosed location in 1943.  They were on board the USAT Dorchester, a cruise-liner-turned-transport ship with slightly over 900 sailors aboard.  The Dorchester was torpedoed by a German submarine when it was off the coast of Newfoundland and had to be abandoned.  The four chaplains organized the evacuation to get as many sailors into rescue boats as possible, while getting as many of the rest into life jackets as they could.  When the life jackets ran out, they gave their own life jackets up for others.  Survivors reported that while the ship went down, the Four Chaplains had their arms linked and were praying together for the safety of the sailors, most of whom died.  Hundreds lost their lives to hypothermia, even though the Dorchester was being escorted by three other ships.  just over two hundred of the nine hundred survived, which are numbers that are hard to even imagine.

    I am not a faithful person – I was raised without a faith and have never been able to find one that felt like it fit me.  I’ve flirted with a few over time, but seem to be mostly drawn to those that don’t require a firm committment from me to a particular set of ideology, which seems like it misses the point of it all.  I don’t believe in God, mostly because it’s a difficult practice to begin when you weren’t raised surrounded by other people who do believe.  But, unlike a lot of athiests who do come out of religious homes, I have a really deep respect for people who do.  I strongly believe in the value of having a faith practice and a faith community.  I’ve always been jealous of people who come to that naturally — even having a religion to rebel against gives you a cultural identity that I just don’t have.  And while I have a deep respect for the practitioners, I have an even deeper respect and admiration for the leaders in faith communities, because their committment to God seems so unshakable.  We do not live in a world in which much is unshakable.

    So, in reading about these four men of God, each from a different faith, who were joined and bonded in that faith as they died together, absolutely gave me chills.  It was nearly seventy years ago that they died, but the way they died and the way that they lived, choosing a dangerous life of service, has touched me.  So here’s to the Four Chaplains, to unshakable faith, to people who willingly sacrifice their own lives so that others may live.  And here’s to interfaith service and four men who died praying in three different languages.  There are so many different lessons in their story for all of us.