Posts Tagged ‘Writing’

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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.

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!

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Math-ProblemOOPSIE!

My word count estimate for the first rough draft of CLIPPED WINGS may have been way off.

I’m not a PLOTTER (a writer who plans out a storyline in detail).

I’m not an OUTLINER (a writer who creates a story outline before beginning to write).

I’m a PANTSER (I don’t plan out anything; I fly by the seat of my pants). I write the opening chapter and the closing chapter, then let the story develop organically between the beginning (point A) and the ending (point B).

Characters (even though they are fictional) have a way of driving the direction of a story as it develops through their actions, feelings, stubbornness, and drama. Every manuscript I’ve written has been character driven, CLIPPED WINGS is no different.

I am currently writing chapter 18. I realize now, my word count estimate was not adequate to fully tell the story. Yes, the manuscript is shaping up to be “epic” in length (between 150,000 – 200,000 words), but don’t worry, CLIPPED WINGS is not characteristically “epic” in any other way.

(I should have paid more attention in Algebra Class)

Additional information can be found at CLIPPED WINGS


Image via YouTube

It’s suggested authors and writers are to write about things they know. Some compose memoirs, an account of events from their authentic life, and others create an artificial world out of their imagination. Even an imagined world has elements from an authentic life, no matter how small. So where do authors draw the line of distinction between reality and fiction? The answer would depend if the author is writing fiction or a memoir. A fictional work could take place in a real-world location, however, the characters, if based on real living individuals, the author would change the characteristics of the real-life individuals, so the reader can not identify the characters to the real-life people they are writing about. Authors can be sued for libel, defamation, and/or slander. To get around this obstacle authors use a little trick; a colloquial term, a euphemism to denote distortion of fact called: artistic license, where elements of reality and fiction become blurred in a way which masks the true elements of reality.

I had to decide if I would write my new manuscript as a memoir, or as a work of fiction? The premise of both manuscripts would center on a specific set of circumstances from real-world events. So, could I tell the story better as a memoir or as fiction? If I wrote a memoir, there would be key parts of the real-world story which would not be included in the manuscript, due to possible legal ramifications. However, if I composed a fictional manuscript, retaining key components of the story as possible. Real-world facts within fictional elements (artistic license) would be retained without worry of reprisal or possible legal repercussion. I decided to write a story based on actual real-world events in the form of a fictional novel, tentatively entitled: CLIPPED WINGS.

A tale of a zealous authoritarian high school administrator exploits his position to break Shane Davison’s teen spirit, unaware of the Pandora’s box he has unintentionally opened. The administrator’s unrestrained actions set into motion a chain of events which no one expected, in this early 1970’s narrative, told from Shane’s teenage perspective. Shane takes the reader into his confidence to reveal a nightmare of biased victimization in a small, ultra-conservative, north Oklahoma town. A true, honest-to-goodness southern literary fictional novel, inspired by actual events being written by Dale Thele.

So, how blurred are the lines between reality vs. fiction in CLIPPED WINGS? The manuscript is a current work in progress, but I can assure you, the storyline blurs repeatedly into murky gray areas of artistic license.

Growing Into My Skin - Excerpt

Unedited excerpt from the rough draft of: GROWING INTO MY SKIN, a memoir of a gay man.

 

“Who is Dale Thele?” the interviewer asked.

“I suppose I’m a person who’s passionate about my beliefs.”

“What do you believe?”

“I believe in humanity, equality and I believe in myself.”

“How would you summarize yourself?”

“Passion driven. I’ve made enemies because of who I am. I’ve made enemies because of my passionate beliefs. But I’ve gained even more friends and allies for the same reasons.

“I’ve held men in my arms as they drew their last breath. I’ve been covered in the blood of fallen brother’s from hate bashings.

“I’ve compromised principles to keep jobs. I’ve been silent when I should have shouted. I’ve sacrificed integrity far too often, all because I didn’t fit into society’s “norm.”

“In hindsight, I suppose I could have made better choices, but every decision was based on my passionate beliefs and belief in myself. My only regret in this life is that I have not done enough for others. More than once I had retreated, isolated myself from a world gone mad, buried my head in the sand. There comes a point when a man can take no more hatred, bigotry, anger, blood and death before he screams, enough is enough, I’m only one person.

“Yet, the day I came face-to-face with my life-long nemesis: HIV and AIDS, an inner strength was awakened and burning passion was reignited. The fight for life was on. I had a secret weapon, an arsenal that few possess: a life of pain, loss and discrimination which had prepared me for the fight of my life.”

* Prototype Cover Photo by Dan Winters Photography

Waterman Carene

Waterman “Carene” fountain pen is an elegant and classy pen making me feel as if I’m composing an epic tome. The Carene is a deep black luminescent lacquer finish barrel with electroplated palladium trim with a shape inspired by the streamlined symmetry of the world’s finest yachts. The french translation of “carène” is “hull”. This quality fountain pen features a highly lacquered barrel and extremely smooth in-laid rhodium-plated 18k solid gold extra fine nib. Heavy weight (brass base), yet ergonomically balanced for writing comfort. The pen can be fitted with a Waterman cartridge or a Waterman converter for use with bottled ink. The timeless designed Waterman “Carene” fountain pen is made in France.

Note: I’m currently hand-writing the first draft of growing into my skin with my Carene, filled with Waterman Mysterious Blue bottled fountain pen ink on 8.5 x 11.75 canary yellow legal pads.


growing into my skin growing into my skin
takes front and center as the current work in progress by Dale Thele

a gay man’s journey in search of his safe place

A literary memoir in progress of the author’s own lifetime of struggles through hate, bigotry, and prejudice, a gay man searches for purpose and meaning of life. Through social challenges, he discovers in the most unexpected circumstances who he is and along the journey, he finds his safe place.

The writing of this manuscript will take precedence over all other writing projects until the manuscript is completed. Watch for excerpts and updates to be posted on this blog. 

Prototype Book Cover Photo by Dan Winters Photography

Pilot Metro

Another of my fountain pens: The Pilot Metropolitan (a modern Japanese manufactured pen), black sleek, smooth-shaped pen great for everyday use. This pen features a stylish matte finish with a glossy middle band. The brass cap and barrel give the pen a comfortable weight and balance. Combined with its smooth-writing Extra Fine stainless steel nib, this makes the Metropolitan a pen that is well-loved by fountain pen novices and expert users alike. The pen uses an ink cartridge or an aerometric (squeeze) converter, I have opted to use a Pilot Con-50 converter which has a greater ink capacity. Currently, it is not inked, I prefer filling with Waterman Brown fountain pen ink, which makes for a great letter writer and complements my cream Original Crown Mill 100% Cotton stationary. (Pilot Worldwide distributes the same fountain pen in the UK market under the name: Pilot “MR” Fountain Pen)