Yeah, you’ve probably heard this from one or two of your friends. Everyone has a story to tell and everyone tries to tell it – whether it be self-published, misspelled literature; or they are staring at the first sentence, in hopes the rest will just flow out of them, like in the movies (minus Funny Farm – if you saw that and can appreciate his attempts, beyond the humor, then you get it.).
Well, I fell into the latter description. My mom encouraged us to read as kids, especially every summer. Some kids got put in sports camps, we got put in library camps. No joke. I used to complain and complain about going but secretly, I loved it. I learned how to write stories and plays, develop characters and to let my imagination go wherever it wanted. I spent hours in my room coming up with stories, reading light-hearted fiction books (I read “This Place Has No Atmosphere” at least 15 times, mainly because I loved that she was moving to the moon and it was so creative!), mysteries (Nancy Drew was HUGE) and biographies on all sorts of fascinating people – celebrities, Presidents and well-known societal fixtures. Reading took me on journeys – something I am a huge believer in. So how did I come to want to write the novel I’ve started?
Sixteen years ago, I was on vacation in South Myrtle Beach, SC for GMU Greek Beach Week. Although not really tied to any one sorority, I was often invited to join in whatever festivities were happening. I remember my third night there, I was watching some incredibly inebriated groups of individuals attempt to couple up. One particular pair included (a now semi-famous) DJ and this drop-dead gorgeous girl (names are left out). Although he was up-and-coming, he didn’t have enough money to really get her attention still, he tried anyway. That very night, while he was attempting to get (at least) a date, I could hear her excuses for why she wouldn’t go out with him: “Don’t you know who I am? “I’m well-known in L.A. and what would the tabloids say?” “I need to be SEEN with someone who everyone will talk about.” He kept promising her the world and she kept refusing (two years later, his career was MADE in Miami and she came running back). Anyway, once she got frustrated and gave up, she walked away from him and was back with our group. She clearly didn’t think any of us heard that conversation. We all knew her real story – she wanted a boyfriend so bad but the addiction of attention was far greater than settling for one man. She desperately wanted to pull away from her L.A. lifestyle and while it was true that many people knew her, she did exaggerate a bit to him about just how many did. She wanted to be loved, adored and envied by everyone yet, there was a small part of her that wanted to run to the woods of Montana and settle down with “Farmer John” and live a much simpler life. Although I don’t keep in touch with either of them, I often think about what happened to them. Still, she became my inspiration for my main character. It’s then that the idea of a novel popped into my head. Why? Because on some level, everyone can relate to an internal struggle that is impacted by leading both public and private lifestyles, and I am fascinated by people and their stories.
I tried developing opening chapters with her as the character, trying to imagine what it was like growing up as her, and even reading biographies about celebs to gain a perspective; but never quite connected the way I needed to.
Since I was fascinated with people and their own lives (including my own), I started drawing on personal experiences and stories of others for fodder – something that will be peppered throughout the novel(s) (along with a lot of crazy fictional events). I thought if I did this, the opening chapter would come to me. And so, for the last 16 years, this novel sat in the back of my brain as something that would “one day” happen when it was time.
Well, that time finally came while I was in Barcelona, checking out the church I was (supposed) to be married in. The minute I walked in, it hit me. My opening chapter’s angle was all wrong this whole time and what was about to be put down on paper was going to be extremely powerful. I thought about this opening constantly. Just like a handbag, or a pair of shoes you CANNOT get out of your mind, this concept was taking over most of my brain all the time. It had to be written down – I had to do this. Finally, the time came when I couldn’t ignore this anymore…
While I’m still developing the description of what this is all about, here is what I have so far, “Alison Gibson is an envied woman. She leads a sophisticated lifestyle. She’s beautiful, successful, well-known and well-liked. She knows that she can have anything she wants, whenever she wants it. To everyone else, she makes her life look effortless and exciting. To her, it’s a mess. While everyone else sees miles of palm trees, endless parties with the wealthy and piles of opportunities; she sees charred landscapes with no sense of direction on how to get out of it. She feels lost, she wants to be loved and she cannot figure out how to snag the right man that will stay forever. Each time there was promise, it was let down after emotionally violent let down. One day, that all comes to an end…”
Stay tuned! This will be a long process and honestly, I don’t know it it will amount to anything other than attempt at my dream.