- I have a lovely “Writing Room” I never use.
- My “Writing Room” is alive with art and hope, but is especially cold since I’ve abandoned it.
- My “Writing Room” invites me in and asks, “Why not bring a fresh cup of coffee and sit and write awhile. We barely know each other yet you’ve touched me in every way.” I still walk away. The room is demanding and I am non-committal. When did I become a crude, deceitful bachelor? You know, the man who loves and leaves because he fears he’s not enough for an incredible woman? Yet, he never tells her she’s incredible so she thinks something is wrong with her. I thought I would be a gentleman.
- My characters know they are kept from the world, especially my antagonist, Clara. She knows her story has a home, yet I allow her to take up an enormous amount of priceless real estate in my head. Clara continues to call for her room, a beautiful space where she and her cast mates can jump onto a sheet of paper, in beautiful journal and come alive. I selfishly keep them close, imprisoning them because they are so engaging, intimate and sometimes, twisted. They possess questionable morals and live in highly unique circumstances. Their conversations are so lurid, I can’t wait to “listen in” on them. And, the moment a character bores me, he exists no more. Yet, I place the limitations of my mind on them. Who knows where their story will go if I let them out in their room, on their paper in their ink?
- I can take any conversation, especially one overheard that makes no particular sense, and create either a beautiful or sinister story from my initial perception of the ambiguous, partial dialogue. I can lose myself into a fantasyland and lock the door so no one else can enter.
- If I encounter an especially charismatic persona in reality, I can build their life moment by moment, truth or not, up to the very instance I see them closely or fortunately, meet them. Then, the illusion may be shattered. Yet, I still don’t release them in the “writing room” where they have space to grow and tell me their truth. No, I don’t breathe them onto paper easily. I go from a terrible bachelor to an over-protective mother.
- I have the ability to visualize my characters in great detail down to a particular shade of nail polish or the placement of grey hairs.
- My characters develop into people living in my mind waiting for the day I unpack them one by one on paper and give them eternal life in the world. Honestly, I fear I might lose them to the reality of criticism.
- I buy journals and notebooks and electronics and haphazardly write pieces of their stories on pages and papers, in folders and journals because there is no possible way for me to describe how real and ridiculous and wonderful these characters are in one place.
- When someone asks, “What is your story about?” I answer with shock. The most boring, simplistic answer dribbles out of my mouth making me even wonder if the story is worth writing down and why would anyone read it?
- There is no fucking way I can pitch the enormity of the story in three sentences or less to someone who doesn’t know how I’ve created and nurtured it. It’s an attempt to sell your friends to strangers.
- I take expensive writing classes I’m easily bored with because I’m supposed to. I think, “Didn’t Edith Wharton do this? Take a class? No, she built a summer estate in the Berkshires and wrote there, like a normal billionaire whose personal assistant picks up pages of written material off the bedroom floor to edit.”
- I attend a remarkable writing conference, “Writer’s Digest Annual Conference” where what I hear and learn haunts me. The information is given to absorb and I do. The creativity and experience shared is brilliant and overwhelming and I think, “Perhaps I am not a writer even though I have a “Writing Room.” I may have the best room than most people at the conference, but, they write.
- I think I should be an interior decorator instead? Oh, Edith Wharton did that also and still wrote a few masterpieces including one on interior design. So, I created a beautiful writing space, a room with all the ambiance and supplies needed to write. I think, “Jane Austen couldn’t imagine writing in a space as elegant and well equipped.” Well, that’s probably because she didn’t need space or elegance to write because she was fucking brilliant! Yet, I believe I do need all these ‘things’ because I really am not that talented and how dare I compare myself to Edith or Jane.
- My “Writing Room” holds a very feminine writing desk of distressed white paint on wood accompanied by a chair so pretty, it’s a bit uncomfortable. Perhaps the glittery, ruffled pillows don’t help my posture. The original art is by two favorite artists, a painter, Gigi Chen who has done three pieces for me; two watercolors and an acrylic and an illustrator, Melsy, whose work I collect. The candles on my desk were purchased in a “magical” store and burn for clarity and creativity because I’ve suddenly become a god-damn witch. The chandelier above holds large, clear crystals just like my desk lamp, because I need to write in a beautiful space. I have pictures of loved ones to help guide and inspire me because not only am I a damn witch, I’ve become a medium and to create, I need magical and mystical powers. Only the best writing instruments, given to me by the best art dealers, Derwent and Pentel, are placed in a large ceramic crown for when I magically write in one of my precious, slightly used journals I’ve collected. I didn’t mention one needs a crown to write? I actually have two on my desk.
- Piles of books surround me. Some have a place, but most don’t. Most are 1st editions signed by authors who actually sat down and wrote the story in their head. Imagine that? A few of these authors have even given me writing advice and encouraged me to pursue my dreams.
- I’ve never really written in the “Writing Room,” because it’s too perfect and demands too much from me. Now, I have created a “living” room with expectations just like my characters and potential readers.
- Today, I realize, sitting on a custom fabric bar stool at the enormous marble island in my kitchen that I hate my laptop, but it’s just a tool. I think, “Use one of your fabulous fucking pens, Cinderella!” Take it out of the fucking crown on your desk and open one of your over-priced linen journals you purchased somewhere in the world and write. Yes, Cinderella lives in the “Writing Room” too.
- I look ahead at the mosaic of small marble tiles over the gleaming stainless steel oven and then to my right, out the door to the property I’ve chosen to own filled with trees. An enormous spider is crafting a gorgeous web in my doorway. Did E.B.White have such creative difficulties? Was Charlotte this demanding? Or, did he look out his door and see a beautiful spider spinning her web and know her story needed to be shared with the world? I am so happy he chose to share.
- Am I an artist? A writer? A voice inside me screams, “Let your characters live in the real world. People need to meet them!” My characters quietly respond, “You can be a wonderful writer. Yes, we are your fragile children, but you can’t keep us in this beautiful place forever. Not everyone will love us, but we know you always will.”
It is a very quiet Saturday morning in my home. My home is never quiet, so I am slightly concerned, but not concerned enough to wake anyone and trigger the daily noise. Usually, I hear boisterous, sometimes irritating conversations being held by family or there is a constant, artificial noise from a television which I despise. On a normal Saturday, I hear the bell on the washing machine telling me the wash cycle has completed rinsing the delicate garments or I suddenly catch the ice maker in the freezer making cubes. Outside, the crickets are buzzing and the air is slowly moving through the trees. Somehow, these sounds always feel right.
At night, I ask Alexa to play an artist I find relaxing or one I find loud and fast as I am washing dinner dishes and listening to the extremely loud frogs that live in my backyard. In all this normalcy, I hear my home living, but I don’t listen to it. One exceptional sound I’ve come to listen intently to and find peace in is the ringing chimes of the beautiful grandfather clock in the large, empty formal living room. It takes me instantly to the story I am writing. The clock is ornate and large and the sound beautiful, commanding and church-like. In those moments of chiming, I realize my characters all take their place on stage and begin to live. Clara and Alex, Victoria and Max, Claude and Lena reside in a dramatic, rich world that’s somehow regal and yet, slightly dangerous. I know my home is never really quiet and I am not sure I’d want it that way.
In the midst of the beautiful quiet interrupted by clock chimes and characters, I sit with a cup of coffee and decide to write a blog about the purpose of this blog. Why? I owe it to my characters. They require a particular reader. Does this reader exist? I hope so, but question why they would read my insights? Maybe they will relate to my life and my characters? Yet, is ChristinaRealNJ explicit enough to grab the attention of the extravagant, particular reader I am searching for?
I started this blog with the intent to find an audience for my first novel. No, I am not done writing the novel and yes, it’s developing. Sometimes I know the beginning, middle and end. Sometimes I live in this imaginary world and have such a wonderful time, I forget to put it on paper. Yet, my search for an audience remains unfulfilled. I ponder, Where are women over forty who wonder if souls are predestined for one another? Where are the women dragging themselves through perimenopasue and menopause who still enjoy sex, love to flirt and manage to look wonderful? Where are girls drooling over a Gucci handbag and marble kitchen tiles all in one day? Where are the women who are educated through universities and/or life? Where are the career women and housewives or both? I’m looking for the goddesses with a very tight circle of friends who don’t trust easily. Where are the woman who have all the “stuff” women over forty are supposed to have, but really want to run away from home even for a few hours to read a great book with a great cup of coffee in peace? Where are the women who want to hop a plane for a different life in complete terror not knowing what to expect? Are you there? I need all of you. Don’t just hear me roar, listen.
For these reasons and these remarkable women and a few, extraordinary men, I write. I blog to discover who you are because I have an amazing story to tell you.
A snippet of the novel I am writing … “I’m a writer.” Clara felt like a liar and an imposter stating that as her profession as if she belonged in the category of F. Scott Fitzgerald. She just noticed The Great Gatsby on the elaborately beach-themed summer reading table designed to catch the eye of a high school or college student. Especially “1902,” the prestigious and notable, Manhattan bookstore, it seemed pretentious to say something so sacred. The Vanderbilt’s designed and lived in the cavernous house from 1902 until 1925 when a private buyer whom no one claims to know bought the house, turned it into a “members-only library and lady’s social scene” by 1926. The gentleman bequeathed it to his only niece with enormous resources to maintain its existence when in 1956 another undisclosed secret family descendant transformed the house into what is now a world-wide destination bookstore for artists of every genre, serious bibliophiles and fans of the history and the dramatic feeling of the old marble and Gilded Age. Every inch of the building and its entire history spoke to Clara as if ghostly voices called her to return there at least once a week to replenish her soul. It was a beautiful business if a business could be considered beautiful. Ironically, Clara thought, F. Scott Fitzgerald never stepped into this house, yet his name is spoken in a god-like sense here.Victoria watched Clara quietly with her thoughts. “You’re a writer, it’s obvious. You cradle your journal in your arms and hold it against you and that silver pencil is an extension of your long fingers. Somehow, as lovely as you are, you manage to enhance this old, beaux arts house and in return, it enhances you. How very comfortable you are here as if you come from this period.”Clara warmed immediately. The young girl knew her. She also noted her journal was resting on her breasts with her arms crossed over it, protecting the white, leather book. Victoria was astute and correct. The journal, a find at an estate sale, was one of Clara’s treasures and the old, ornate building, still impeccable and majestic, was exactly where Clara and her journal belonged. Once, Lena told Clara that she added a bit more gilding to the space as if it were possible.Clara self-corrected, “I’m not a professional writer. I’m an aspiring writer or more like a hopeful writer. I’ve been told I write well by my classmates at the Manhattan Literary Arts School. I take classes there once a week in the spring and fall.” Clara told Victoria this information as if she were confiding a secret. She was not sure why she continued to take the novel writing classes. Of course it will only amount to a pastime. Clara was pensive for a moment until Victoria spoke in her lovely, but youthful tone.“How exciting! What are you working on? A murder-mystery, a historical fiction, an epic love story? You must tell me. I’m dying to know!” I have a friend who met JK Rowling once and she said meeting a writer is a magical experience.“Yes,” Clara smiled with closed lips, a blush on her cheeks and a bit of water in her blue eyes. “A very epic love story that doesn’t seem as delightful as you perceive it at the moment and I’m not quite sure I am magical, but thank you for the vote of confidence. If you want to experience magic, wander this building and imagine it in all its time.” Clara seriously arched her left eyebrow and the smile left her lips quickly indicating she was in deep thought and momentarily somewhere dark and not pleasant.“There you are my love!” A happy, smooth, British voice woke Clara from her thoughts. “We’ve been searching for you and of course you have made a beautiful friend,” said the very charming and proper, yet much older Englishman who kissed Victoria gently on her left cheek. It was obvious Victoria adored him and he was enormously proud of her, yet Clara wasn’t certain she understood the relationship. Intrigued, she tried to keep up with the story of the British girl and the British gentleman in the legendary bookstore that she was now somehow entangled in.At first, Clara wasn’t certain she really cared to know more about the tourists. It was Manhattan and they are annoyingly everywhere. She intended to spend the afternoon reading and writing and had little patience for more frivolous conversation. She already shared too much with this stranger yet something reminded her of the time the manse was used as a social club. Perhaps, she could experience a bit of that today. Yet, very quickly, now back from the unhappy places her mind took her when she spoke of her writing and the classes she took, Clara’s full attention brought shock when it registered that Victoria’s companion was entirely too old for her. Suddenly, she couldn’t control her facial features and her blank, lost smile became a hideous sight as her mouth hung open. Clara’s eyes opened wide as she was startled while a stream of thoughts screamed in her head. She became keenly aware of her own sense of propriety and was and offended. Propriety for Clara was on the surface. Beneath the ladylike façade, she was a bit wild.What the fuck? He’s old enough to be her father! Obviously the perfect explanation as to how a young woman owns a hat shop in a fashionable part of London. She’s quite the entrepreneur, but not very original. He isn’t totally offensive for an older man. Well-groomed and well-off in appearance, he’s traditional and modern without looking like a total jack-ass. He explains her designer wardrobe, costly bracelets, the statement bag and new hat shop. Oh, good for her, he’ll be dead soon and she’ll have a lovely, little hat shop and jewelry to sell. Yet, she still has to have sex with him. Seriously, he must be in his late fifties! How old could she be, twenty-five? Honestly, if she were thirty-five I might be able to accept this situation, but twenty-five? A more experienced woman could handle him, even satisfy his needs, but a girl? I can appreciate that he is well-groomed, relatively fit and handsome in a somewhat rough, but dignified way. He is certainly not average, but not gorgeous either and doesn’t appear his age. What is it? Sexy, yes, he’s sexy and that is so rare and so compelling for a woman my age. Is it the accent? No, not enough to carry him. Wait! What does she care about his accent? She is British! For fuck’s sake, I’m the one seduced by the accent. What the hell am I thinking? He’s sexy? I’ve noticed his body? Apparently, I’ve noticed too much about him. I’m going to be ill! This imaginary story stops immediately. I don’t care about these people and their peculiar relationship. Why do I care? Clara’s head was spinning. She thought she was modern, but couldn’t identify what particularly aggravated her sense of decency when she saw this young, inexperienced woman with this older man. It was obvious, Victoria needed bank and he needed sex.Apparently, Clara’s inner dialogue was intense since she had no comprehension of what the British man was speaking to her about. “The manse is circa 1900, he asked. 1902, correct Clara? Clara, are you well?”“Yes, built in the Gilded Age. 1902, hence the name.”A handsome young man came up from behind Victoria with several books.“There you are Vic! I swear you never stay in one spot. I am constantly losing you and we’re not even married one year. Dad and I were searching for you. Good that he found you; this building is a puzzle.” The handsome young man turned his attention toward Clara with a beautiful smile.“Hello. Please accept my sincerest apologies. Maximillian Miller, Vic’s … I mean Victoria’s husband. Are you acquaintances?Clara thought she would pass out at this point of shock. She was still having an internal dialogue with herself pondering what she would tell her therapist. If her mouth wasn’t still hanging open all this time, it certainly fell agape in the most embarrassing way as she stared at Maximillian in shock.Oh my God! He’s her father in law. Yes, there’s a resemblance between the two men. Maximillian is younger, less experienced, a less lived version of his father. I’m ridiculous! I’ve assumed lovely Victoria is the equivalent of a whore. I do need an appointment with Dr. Renner. I am embarrassed and I definitely hate him! Such a pompous ass leading me to believe he was entangled with this young woman. I’m done here. I am not the bookstore’s social director or tour guide. Victoria has a husband her own age and I do not need new friends. Victoria kissed her husband on the lips and started speaking excitedly. “Max, this is Clara, she’s a writer. We just met and she complimented my hat! I could be a famous milliner here in the States. Perhaps dress celebrities or open my own store on Fifth Avenue or in SoHo? What do you think? Shall we move to America? Max smiled and listened intently.Victoria was charming and light. Her air of propriety disappeared and there stood in front of Clara a young bride who simply loved her husband and fashion and was thrilled to meet an American woman who admired her craft. Victoria was beautiful and as classic as her hat. There was nothing pretentious about her; she was creative, real and very sincere.Clara, realizing her idiocy, immediately closed her mouth, licked her lips, straightened her loose bun and found her long lost composure. Finally out of her head, she returned to her world, her bookstore, her favorite city.“Hello, Mr. Miller,” Clara said as she extended her hand to shake his. “Your wife is delightful. I never strike up conversations with strangers, but her hat caught my attention. She is very talented and a pleasure to speak with. I assume you are all here on holiday so I’ll leave you to your exploration of this wonderful piece of New York history. Best wishes with your business, Victoria. My pleasure meeting you all.”