A year ago, I would have laughed had you predicted I’d write a book. I had no aspiration nor intention for such a lofty project. There was no outline, no underlying message, no plot. What I had was lots of time, an imagination bigger than I knew, a few blank notebooks and lots of pens. I write longhand and then edit at the keyboard with two index fingers.
Through it all, the tribe studied the book that brought us together. Although it focused on artistic endeavors, it applied to life in general. Isn't life itself an art form? Some of the group dropped out for personal reasons, but six of us bonded, three in or around Chicago, two of us the northwest corner of the U.S. and one in South Australia. It was an unlikely combination and I don’t think any of us dreamed how close we would become. We all shared our art and our lives.
I sent each chapter to them as it was completed. Sometimes we’d get together and chat online. It fascinated me when they discussed the characters like they were real people. They were mad at her for this and concerned about someone else’s feelings. My words evoked emotions in my mini-audience. The tribe speculated what might happen next. Occasionally, I would tease them with a line or two of the next chapter I was working on. I liked coming up with a shocking development and then leave it hanging. I threw in some humor, sometimes not knowing where it came from. A piece of my soul is this book. That is the definition, the pure and simple essence of art.
It took a year to write my story. I had multiple lives occurring simultaneously, the real one, the one I was writing in my head, the one that made it to paper and the version I typed on my computer screen. My real life consisted of my oldest daughter moving two hundred miles away for a good job, my youngest getting married and my wife getting sick. I coped by escaping into my world of imagination. It was far better therapy than a shrink or medication. With three-quarters of the book written, I was transforming into a full-fledged writer with hermit characteristics, long hair and beard, short pants and no shoes. Artists are not programmed to be conformists.
The tribal bond was strong and plans were put in place to congregate. None of us had red flag fears of meeting online friends. We had grown together as a group for ten months. The original plan was to gather in Chicago where most lived or could turn into a day trip. Uta, our Aussie contingent, booked a flight. But, life got in the way for me and I couldn’t attend. Four of the six made it. Then, three of them took the train to my house in Seattle. The four of us drove to Oregon to meet the other non-attendee in Chicago. While we were there, I sacrificed my hair and beard during a video conference with our one missing squaw. It all had to come off anyway to please my daughter for her wedding day. What does this have to do with me writing a book? Everything! These five women were my pre-natal vitamin, my believing mirrors who are responsible for motivating me to keep writing.