Monday, March 9, 2009

The Son Who Begat His Father

Last week my long-awaited website made its debut at I have my son Mike and granddaughter Katie to thank for the website. They brainstormed it during our Christmas holidays in December, and now it’s a reality. I’m pleased with it, and hope readers of this blog will check it out and offer your comments on what you find.

It was Mike who launched me into my present life as a writer of fiction. On the night of October 27, two and a half years ago, he called me on the phone from Indiana and challenged me to write a novel.

Ever since his years as a student at Maryville College, Mike has shown promise as a writer, but he sensibly decided to earn his living in the regular-paycheck world of industry. He called that night to say that at last he was going to write the novel that had been ricocheting around in his head for some years. November, he said, was National Novel Writing Month and he was about to join the thousands of NaNoWriMo folks who would try to write at least 50,000 words of a new novel in those thirty days.

“Join me,” Mike said. “You just need to write first draft stuff. Get the words out and worry about style later.”

“Mike,” I said, “I have no idea for a plot and no characters to write about. Besides, I’ve just started re-reading War and Peace. That project is enough for November.” After a sleepless night I phoned him back and said, “Okay, Mike, you’re on. I’ve got some characters and an idea for a plot.”

November went by in a blur of nearly sleepless nights and killer days. I could never survive such a month again, but as December 1st rolled in I had written 60,000 words, and I was hooked. War and Peace is still sitting neglected on the shelf. So are those 60,000 words, for that matter, but that was just a trial run. I’ve written better since, and I'm still writing.

Now I'm waiting for Mike's novel. Of course I have an advantage over him when it comes to writing. I have the leisure of sitting in unhurried retirement in my back pew.

~ Bert Johnston, author of Parson Campbell’s Breakthrough

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