Gulf Shores

Gulf Shores
Photographer Patricia Gulick

Saturday, December 14, 2013

8-31-13 RMB Write On

8-31-13 RMB Write On
Dear Rita Mae Brown,
It’s 86 degrees in my room on this Saturday night. That would not be too bad, but its 11pm, after a day of temperatures that soared way too close to 100. Night should offer more relief than this. So I’m typing America Book 2 with my iced coffee resting against my bare thigh. Occasionally I run the plastic cup along my leg so that the cold moisture forming on the outside will mix into and cool my own sweat. I take breaks to mist myself with water from a plastic bottle and across the room is a small fan aimed my way. Heat and I do not mix well.
Writing and I do mix well, and it makes everything better, the laying of words, one after another, building a story, syllable by syllable. Watching the character’s lives unfold. You can define the currents. You can see how one got from there to here and project the path from here to the next there. If only really life could be so easily deciphered…
The main character is named America, shortened to Ric. She is a charismatic, shorthaired, 5’ 7” woman in her late twenties, with a trim tomboy figure. Her mother describes her as “abnormal” and she came to accept her mother’s description because nothing about her fits into the world we know. She’s androgynous, neither very feminine nor masculine. She’s a free, adventurous spirit because she feels no need to conform to a world that won’t claim her as one of their own. She lives by no rules and does what feels good, whatever that might be. The only person she aims to please is herself and whomever she is with in the moment.
I think there is a part of all us that both feels abnormal at times and longs to be so free often.
Then there is Liv, short for Olivia, the supporting character, although my critics say I give her too much air time, that Ric is more exciting and not showcased enough.
Liv is damaged…aren’t we all. She fights battles that can never be won, because they live within her. They have claimed her and consumed her soul. She fearlessly protects others from harm.
As I envisioned these two characters, for Ric, I pictured a combination of a few people I have known, spirited people that could laugh just for the sake of enjoying a moment, a magical sound. Liz Benjamins was one of those people. A friend read an early version of the book and pointed out that the main character, Ric, was the embodiment of my ex. “And, of course,” she added, “Liv is you.” 
I did not have a person in mind when I wrote Liv. Yes, I had put elements of my ex in Ric, but she was a compilation of many people, some of whom my friend never even met. She never met Elizabeth Benjamins. As for Liv being me, I am not that damaged, not anymore, and I know I am not that strong, nor that brave, not yet.
Write on,

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