As I was finishing my correspondence course in Fiction Writing with the Famous Writers School out of Westport, Connecticut, I also was working on the opening chapters for “Seawind”, the immediate title I’d given my life-sustaining novel. Seawind simply was the “Lady Seawind”, a cruise ship upon which the first portion of my novel took place. And after the ship’s characters disembarked, the story kept growing further into what it had started with, a sprawling love triangle and thriller which I could not put down!
But in the beginning, after I had viewed the inspiring movie Ship of Fools many times over (see last post, dated October 26, 2016), what would be my novel’s first chapter was undecided.
After the immediate name for it came to me, I was buried in how to get my first character, a farm town doctor, aboard the cruiser ship. My limited knowledge called a quick halt to moving my story forward. And I had a fictitious American woman in mind who had been visiting Venezuela, where she had an aunt and uncle, and who was going to be the focal point of the love triangle that also involved my doctor and the Seawind captain. What did I know about the country of Venezuela?
The problem of geography and knowledge were solved by visits to the library on campus at Ohio State University, where I continued to work at the College of Education in 1966. Thus, I got a quick insight into the importance of research when one begins to write a novel. I already was a library-lover, so it followed that I enjoyed the research in the library’s powerful atmosphere.
In the meantime, I was finishing the correspondence course, with an extension of time allowed, and received my completion certificate in 1968. Is my certificate still hanging above my home work desk? Of course, it is! It represented my “license to write”, so to speak, at the time, and it gave me great pleasure to announce to my Ohio State college friends that I had received it.
Another OSU tidbit concerning my writing is the fact that I still possess some hand-written pages of my various novels, and some skeletal story and chapter ideas, all scratched on the backsides of scrap office paper from the College of Education, circa 1960s.
Unfortunately, my correspondence course paperwork and assignments all were lost in one of my life’s numerous moves from one location in Ohio and Vermont to another. However, I do still have the important four-volume book series and some other lesson and teaching material from the course, which I very much value.
Writing continued to consume me, and the novel was my passion, my life, in the middle of big city living. I didn’t earn much at my job, so options to explore Columbus were few, at any rate. The dog I had adopted from a local shelter I named Mick. He was supposed to be part Irish Setter. Tones of reddish brown did dominate his handsome coat. My silent and faithful partner, he accompanied me everywhere on campus during good weather, non-working hours, when I often chose a campus spot to sit and write.
Of course, there came a time when real life attraction to the opposite sex occurred for me. My writing slowed, but there was passion of another sort.