Grey Expanse Between Fact and Fiction

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There’s an old saying “write what you know” a popular expression among writers. So what happens when you write a story of “what you know” but you don’t have all the factors to conclude the story?

Over four decades ago, when I was a high school student, there were some unconventional incidents that took place in my teens. Years later, I considered writing an autobiography which would have revealed a real and intimate part of my life, but I was missing a key component, the “why did those events take place?” Without answers to that question, an autobiographical account was out of the question. Who’d want to read a book with no conclusion? Those events were real, and they changed not only my life but the lives of others. Yet I didn’t have the details to wrap up the story all tidy and neat.

On a personal note, I had struggled with the “why?” for years. I had kept that part of my life private because I worried to tell my story due to possible retaliation. For years, I wanted to put those memories behind me. I craved and needed closure.

Finally, the solution came to me. Couldn’t I write the “what I know” part and fill in the unknown “why” with fictional content? I wrote the rough draft and everything fell into place. The completed draft was a blend of fact and fiction. It answered every one of the unknown factors which eluded me for years. I had a complete story. And most of all, I found the closure I so desperately desired.

The result was a coming of age story composed in the grey expanse between established facts and pure made up fiction. No loose ends, no unanswered questions, a story wrapped up with a big shiny bow. I entitled it CLIPPED WINGS.

I completed the epic length rough draft in four months. Handwritten with fountain pens and liquid bottled ink in eight cheap college-ruled composition notebooks. An additional three months to transpose the manuscript into digital format along with considerable first round editing. There are several further rounds of self-editing to do. Then, I will release the manuscript to hungry beta readers. At which time, they will rip and shred my manuscript apart with their scathing remarks. From the beta readers comments, I’ll have a plethora of editing options before me. However, I will have the last word as I wrap up the final edit before the manuscript goes to a third-party editor to polish the final manuscript for publishing.

CLIPPED WINGS may be a southern coming of age novel to its readers, but for me, I found closure to a dark part of my earlier life. The question remains, is the book fact or fiction? You and I know the actual answer, the story takes shape in that grey expanse which exists between fact and fiction, yet inspired by actual events.

Read more about CLIPPED WINGS. I invite you to subscribe to the SCUTTLEBUTT, my online newsletter, with monthly updates on CLIPPED WINGS, as well as background facts and behind the scenes news about the book.

#DaleThele  #Author #Novelist #LGBT

Handwriting Novel Rough Draft

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notebookWho handwrites any more?

That’s so old school.

Well, just call me old fashion.

Back in December, I completed the rough draft of CLIPPED WINGS, entirely handwritten in cursive with a fountain pen in a total of eight college-ruled composition books. Why would I put myself through such cruel torture?

Well, I love writing with fountain pens, there’s nothing that can compare with the feel and sensation of watching liquid ink form words on a piece of paper. In 2012 I ran across a YouTube video made by Brian Goulet about how to use fountain pens. Until that point in my boring life, I’d not paid any mind to fountain pens, after all, I grew up in the Bic pen generation. I was so captivated by his videos I watched everything Brian posted online. I searched out other fountain pen vids. It was if I’d been put under a trance, I couldn’t get enough information about fountain pens.

In 2013, I’d entered an online contest and won a genuine fountain pen as my prize. I excitedly filled that sucker with ink from a small glass bottle. As soon as the nib connected with the paper, I was hooked. I had fallen head over heels into the allusive fountain pen rabbit hole. Since that fateful day, I seek out any opportunity to write with pen and ink. Sometimes when I can’t find something useful to write I simply scribble one phrase over and over on any paper I have handy. “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog”. Call me crazy and order a tailor to fit me for a straight jacket. I am a fountain pen addict, and I publicly admit it. There, I said it.

With my love of fountain pens, it was just a natural desire to hand write the first draft of my inaugural novel in 2017. Sure I’d written and published a couple of short stories and three novellas in 2010, but they were composed entirely on a laptop. That was years before I became mesmerized by the fantastical world of fountain pens.

I began my new adventure into handwriting a fictional novel rough draft. Not just any novel, but an epic-length southern literary novel. To prepare for the journey, I inked up anywhere from 6 – 8 fountain pens with different brands and colors of fountain pen ink. I also acquired a bunch of cheap college-ruled composition books for fifty cents each – I’m kind of a cheapskate. From Amazon, I purchased a SMUDGEGUARD spandex glove. It’s a two finger glove which fits on the pinky and ring fingers and prevents the transfer of body oil onto the paper as you write. Fountain pens can be persnickety boogers when they come into contact with body oil, it may skip or not lay a proper amount of ink on paper. Smudgeguard also protects the hand from getting all inky by accidentally dragging it across wet ink. Of course, for the fountain pen enthusiast, it’s considered a badge of courage to brandish inky hands and fingers, it just comes with the territory. To prepare for my new task I needed some writing background music, something that would tug at the emotions. I returned to YouTube again where I found and downloaded a large collection of emotional piano and violin music tracks. I don’t think I broke any laws in doing so — if I did — oopsie.

So, I began handwriting the rough draft in cursive, you know what that is? It’s that curlicue style of handwriting that just about anyone born after 1970 can’t read. It’s a private hieroglyphic type of writing which the Baby Boomer generation and generations before used to compose secret messages to one another.

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I found that handwriting was much more convenient than to lug a bulky laptop around everywhere. I could take my composition book and a couple of fountain pens along wherever I went. I wrote in coffee shops, on public transit, waiting in lobbies between appointments, and I could even write when I was in the toilet if I wanted. The downside, fountain pens do not hold an indefinite amount of ink. It was not uncommon to be writing happily along and run out of ink in mid-sentence when I’d simply grab a replacement inked pen. I’d go through from 6 -8 inked pens each week. Every Sunday I’d clean and refill the next week’s supply of pens. So, that’s a quick overview of how the rough draft of CLIPPED WINGS was written – by hand, in cursive, with fountain pens, in college-ruled composition books. Could I get much more old school than that?

A sampling of pens and inks I used to write the rough draft:

Sheaffer 1960’s vintage “School Pen” …………… Pelikan 4001 Dunkelgrun Ink

Fountain Pen Revolution “Himalaya” …………….. Chesterfield Amethyst

Platinum “Plaisir” ………………………………………… Sheaffer Peacock Blue

Levenger “True Writer” ………………………………… Waterman Mysterious Blue

Lamy “Safari” ……………………………………………… Diamine Eclipse

Sailor “1911” ………………………………………………. Levenger Cocoa

Esterbrook “J-Series” (vintage) ………………………Monteverde Moonstone

Parker “Sonnet” (60’s vintage) ………………………. Cross Violet (limited edition)

Waterman “Carene” …………………………………….. Waterman Serenity Blue

Pilot “Metropolitan” ……………………………………… Parker Blue/Black

Happy Writing!

#DaleThele  #Author #Novelist #LGBT

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