DG Crum

Southern fiction writer

Author: dgcrum (page 2 of 2)

Writing a novel…………..

I wrote a short story and posted it in four parts on Scribophile. (Actually it’s a novelette because it is 12,500 or so words long.)  I might have mentioned, in a previous post, that Scribophile is something like a virtual water cooler, where writers and wannabee writers gather to discuss and compare stories.  Now might also be a good time to mention that I have a website with the URL of The Virtual Writer.  Seems like a perfect fit, doesn’t it?

A man who identifies himself as Memphis Trace read Part One of my four part story and said, “Hooo, boy, you got the beginnings of a good story here.”  His critique was so good and helpful because he told me stuff like “instead of saying ‘in comparison to’ say ‘in contrast with.”  May not sound like much but it was like one of those moments when you are trying to put a piece of jig saw puzzle that has three tabs and one pocket into an open spot on the semi assembled puzzle, and it just doesn’t fit right, and the picture on your piece of puzzle doesn’t quite match the scene surrounding the hole, and someone, usually your husband or wife, walks up, looks at the puzzle, picks up a piece from the unused pile and places it (viola – pronounced waa – laa because it’s French) into the hole like any child (including your cousin’s really stupid one) could’ve figured that out.

So, this man who calls himself Memphis Trace reads the remaining parts of my novelette and tells me I need to fill in the back story (that is a writing term meaning ‘before this happened, this other thing happened’) and convert this novelette into a full-fledged novel.  I tell him I had plans for 10 novelettes in a series (sort of like Longmire – but I ain’t going to admit I am copying off Longmire with the 10 episode series thing).  He tells me what he wants to read – how this happened and how that came to be – and so I am now working to convert my novelette into a novel.  Today, I get an email from him telling me I got enough ideas for a number of novels.  I am, if nothing else, motivated to write novels provided I can convince my wife that writing novels and drawing stuff is more important than fixing the gaping hole in the family room ceiling or remodeling the ‘en suite’ (also French) bathroom which I had to gut when we moved here because of the black mold, or finishing the back drop on the kitchen counter, or finishing the ceramic tile work in the main bathroom, or finishing the trim on the floor, or finish painting the living room and foyer (another damn French word), or fixing the lighting I screwed up.

Truth is, I probably ought to replace those broken panes and put some stairs on that upstairs front door.

Just say NO! to technology……….

Yesterday, my computer crashed three times. It just shut the hell down, once when I was in the middle of writing a message to someone on Scribophile (a virtual water fountain for writers and would-be writers).I am sure some folks would see the solution to this problem right off.  “Darryl” they would say, “Just go buy a new one.” What they do not realize is that I am on a fixed income.  I like that it is called ‘fixed’ when, in reality, it doesn’t fix a damn thing. In fact, the more ‘fixed’ my income becomes, the more ‘broke’ I become.

Back to the story.  I cannot completely blame my computer, because it is getting old.  In computer years, which is like dog years cubed, it was here when the oldest Sequoia tree was a sapling.  (Do you get my metaphor – if  that is what it is – about computer ages?)  Recently, one of the CTRL keys fell off and I cannot figure out how to get it back on. I am not at a complete loss with that happening because this computer (according to the salesman who sold it to me) is extra special because it has two CTRL keys.  I guess, realistically speaking, I have only lost half of my control over this computer and the bonafide crap I produce on it under the guise of fiction.

The computer is also missing the cover over the hard drive which

is on the bottom so I do not have to be reminded that I lost the cover unless I pick up the computer and feel the hard drive.  Then, the first thing that comes to mind is guilt.  I am slowly crippling this old friend. It is a bit like cutting off one hind leg of a pet pig so you can have some ham for dinner and still have your pet pig.  Sort of.  We are not here for Metaphors and Similes – those two Greek cities can go elsewhere to battle.Anyway, I am slowly getting to the subject of this post.  That is to say, I am getting tired of technology and I am about to rebel against it and go back to my ‘old school’ ways.  That is what I think, as I drink my coffee made in my Nespresso coffee brewing machine.  Then, I remember the day when my dad first used an old A Model John Deere to plow our cotton.  He was amazed.  Up until that day, he had to use a team of mules, and with my dad’s disability (one lung had been deflated and destroyed during a debauched surgery), using those mules was pretty damn hard on him.  It took his several days to plow 16 acres of cotton.  I remember the first day he plowed with that tractor and how he just kept going on about how he could plow a field in a few hours when, prior to that tractor, it took him a couple of days.

Every picture tells a story, don’t it………

I am trying to learn to draw.  It’s a skill I’ve wanted to master most of my life and now I am taking a course in basic drawing.  I believe there is something in every story teller that says, “I wish I could draw a picture here so they could see that better.”, and yet, it might be better when we can’t.

You see, there is a tenet in writing that says you must show, not tell.  That means you must find a way to let the reader see what you want them to see, i.e, the man was tall, without actually saying, “The man was tall.”  I am afraid that if I could learn to draw and could use that skill to illustrate a tall man, I might not do a good job of describing, in sufficient and appropriate words, that the man was tall.

Still, I want to learn to draw.  The bitch of it is, doing that takes away from the one thing I love to do which is telling stories.  Sometimes I would rather do that than sleep – were that not the case, these characters of mine would not come into my bedroom in the wee hours of the morning wanting attention.

Truth in blogging – I did not draw the man to the left.  I borrowed him from the internet until I can replace him with one of my own.


The war within me on whether I would direct my talents toward drawing or writing was fought and the lines drawn when I was in junior high school.

As I recall, my initial desire was to be able to draw, to be an artist.  It wasn’t so much that I chose art over writing as it was that Mrs. Sybil Rogers, my English and grammar teacher, rolled out far too many rules regarding punctuation and grammar, and she forced me (well, the class) to do things like memorize and be able to repeat all of the prepositions.  She made me diagram sentences more complex than a treasure hunter’s map to the Ark of the Covenant.  It got to be daunting.

Art, on the other hand, was just a matter of picking up a pencil and drawing stuff on paper.  Unfortunately, my ‘drawings’ were not so good. The people I drew looked like dogs, my dogs looked like horses (or something with three legs and possibly a fence post), and my horses looked like they were genetic experiments conducted by some visiting aliens (not to be confused with undocumented workers).

So, while Mrs. Rogers was making the life of an artist look more and more inviting, the trouble with learning that vocation stemmed directly from the fact that, while I had to take an English course of some type, every year for the 12 years of my education, my little school did not offer one course in drawing.  After wasting an enormous amount of time trying to draw animate and inanimate objects, I gave up.  I changed my perspective, so to speak.

I learned to write.  My mother and father liked my writing, and I was given considerable encouragement from Mrs. Rogers and Mrs. Legg (two remarkable bastions of the English language).   When I went to the University, my teachers constantly encouraged me to write.  “Could be another Faulkner.  He has the life experiences.”  One teacher’s opinion, another thinks differently, “Hemingway – maybe?” Teacher One thinks not, “No, Faulkner.  DG likes to color all over the language while keeping within the lines.” How could I deny the words and opinions of such experts?  Why else would I pay so much money to attend the university if I did not respect the opinions of these tenured professors.  I apologize, Mr. Faulkner.

I never became a writer. Hell no!  I was brought into this world as a sharecropper, and I was pretty damn sure – having suffered enough years of it – I was not going to go out of this world as a sharecropper.  I got a job working in industry and gave up every dream I ever had because, upon my nagging insistence, my wife gave me a son and a daughter.  Nothing – not one thing in my bucket of dreams – mattered as much as keeping them secure.  Writers have a problem doing that.

I retired.  My battling days were over.  I stepped off the battlefield and settled down to a life of repairing a huge house.  Trouble is, the battle on whether to be a writer or to be able to draw had not ended. In the midst of thinking I had finally found tranquility in my “I wanna’ be a…” battle,  I learned it was never settled.  Apparently, it was just a cease fire until reinforcements could be mustered.

Now, I have sixty something years of stories that have built up inside of me complete with settings, characters, conflicts, and resolutions, and all of them waiting for a chance to be seen and heard.  I took a course – a great teacher – and I stepped back onto that metaphorical battlefield first with short stories that became novelettes that are now becoming novels. It seems I am also back back in college now to learn to draw because I have images – paintings – that demand to be made a part of this world.

The battle – screw it, I call a truce. These two will just have to figure out how to peacefully co-exist.  Meanwhile, my wife wants me to finish the work on this big ass house.

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