I’ve had similar experiences prepping for a book. Characters start to appear after I write them, but this time it’s something quite extraordinary. My past, and when I saw my past, I mean the people who have lived before me and carried my genetic code, my ancestors, are working with me. They are walking next to me and tapping me on the shoulder – asking that their memories become unearthed so that I may hear them. I’m humbled – now knowing that this next book is going to be an experience like no other.
My stomach is stronger for it – looking back in time it must be. It all started that night with my grandfather’s book and now is unfolding into a tale that has already happened, I just need to capture it. Slowly. Moving slowly and with the effectiveness of a detective or crime scene organizer – each piece has to be examined. Turned around. Thank goodness it’s the winter.
Jay Z’s MTV Unplugged set the tone I think for the season. “I was the winter…” he says at the opening of the album. In his voice, you can hear so many of those Brooklyn winters that he went through and I walked on the reverberation of his voice towards this story where, at the end of the tunnel, stood my grandfather. Finally, I have been able to meet up with him. In the real world – or the physical world which we call the real world, I was never able to sit with him. Now, through the exploration of this next book, I am able to.
I feel him sitting with me and it gives me comfort. There is a story that needs to be told – a sadness that needs the light of day so that it can be relieved. It’s possible to so. I never understood how one could properly carry on a family name, but I do now. Process -wise, I’ve written about 200 pages to get to this point and now I am finally ready to start. All of that is warm up – getting the mold ready to pour a story that will solidify. That’s the amazing thing about writing – it never is stale. It is never the same and each book has its own life – and when that life starts to feel right, and I mean right down in your gut – well, that’s why I do this. It must be a physical need to get it all out and down.
In the past week, I’ve been speaking with people who knew of or actually knew my grandfather – and I think that he has called down to me and asked that I tell this story. Truly a remarkable feeling of connection, and it’s here in the twilight that I can truly understand the enormity of what’s about to be undertaken. I’m not afraid to do it. I look forward to the challenge of pushing craft.
As the story shapes, I’ll put more down, but I know that I’ll need to do something I haven’t pulled off in the previous books – Show Two cities and Two sets of main characters and weave them all together. I’m not a knitter, so it will be interesting to figure out how it’s going to be done. At least I have history and, best of all, that history that I have has been documented so well that it’s going to be a strict traffic cop in my pursuit of the truth. Truth. Intent. These are essential for me when constructing a novel, so I’m grateful that so much has been delivered in the winter. The coolness and driving rain help to keep everything grounded.