How To Fracture A 42 Year Friendship????Write A Novel Together….
Beginning.. We met at a writing workshop. I was a wife and mom from New Jersey, and she was a single career woman living in New York City.
What we had in common? A drama filled writing group run by a drama fused published well-known writer. An ad in New York Magazine literally put us all together. Our “teacher” raves about our very questionable talents.
Barbara and I become instant friends since we seemed to be the most normal students. She liked my idea about a novel I was working on. I discovered I didn’t actually like my main character. She was recently divorced, and dating for the first time since her virgin bride days. Her first three dates fit their astrological traits to a perfect t. Why not go down The Circle of Animals path and see if the next nine fit as well.
The character was not relatable to me. Not someone I would like as a friend. When I mentioned the premise to Barbara, she quickly suggested doing it together.
“I’ll do it with you. We can divide up the signs. I’m sure I’ve had a few in my life.”
It seemed like a good idea at the time….but….there were many buts to come.
The Process.. When my husband died suddenly, my grief was unbearable. I ran away from New Jersey. My life as I knew it was over, and when I was ready, I would create a new one in New York City.
Barbara said there was a one bedroom available in her building. Easy to have writing meetings. I created Kate and she created Frannie. A slew of characters from both our imaginations. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t convince Barbara to have Frannie evolve and not be one-dimensional, bordering boring. I always envisioned both women to be equal in their journey. Not one more important than the other.
After about five rejections Barbara wanted to give me the book. ” Everyone likes Kate. It’s her story. You do it on your own.” This was suggested to me several times and each time I gave her the same answer…No. You make Frannie more likeable and relatable.
There was resentment building. Barbara never realized putting the book together would be so time-consuming and difficult. No surprise to her that I was not tech savvy and due to hand problem, I wrote my half by hand.
We are as different off the page as on. Many times she wanted to curtail Kate. I never would allow Kate’s spirit edited, nor did I edit Frannie.
At the time we had an editor/agent. She suggested changing the original title Circle of Animals to Circle. When we had differences, she sided with me so Kates positive energy and quirky traits stayed in tact. She also agreed with me to make the character of Frannie stronger. Sadly she was terminally ill at the time and no longer able to work.
The writing process took over forty years from idea to decision to self publish. I was in New Jersey for most of those years. In my opinion, we didn’t try hard enough to get an agent. I also thought the story line was diminished when the entire back story was integrated.
Completion..Started when I moved to N.Y.C. One morning outside my apartment door was a white cardboard box. The first version of Circle with a pretty note card.
Barbara knew the completion of Circle was very important to my husband. He always told me that many aspects of the story were ahead of its time. After Barry’s death, Barbara said “what can I do?” I was so self involved with grief that just breathing was a chore. I said “lets finish our book” and we went to work, thirteen years ago.
I was excited that her character was becoming more interesting. She gave her personality. I created Timothy at the Taurus/Taurus party and she developed the character and he became her lover. Terrance was a wonderful addition to the cast of characters. Jim, Kate, Frannie, etc….I loved them all. Barbara continued to make negative snide remarks about Circle after almost every writing meeting. I never gave up having positive thoughts about our project.
After almost forty-three years we received the proof. I was overwhelmed with joy to see the cover and published book. Circle was born.
So many years of us going to dinners and toasting Circle. Now it was a reality. We were able to toast the success we hoped would occur. I called Barbara and said “let’s celebrate and have dinner.”
“There’s nothing to celebrate” was her answer.
The End in more ways than one, sadly……..You may wonder why we stayed with Circle. Barbara working full-time and putting the book together in her spare time. Probably furious that I was out and about. It’s true that she took my pages and turned them into Circle. I acknowledged her inside the cover. When two people write a book, the togetherness in writing and discussing can be a creative process that works. It’s also aloneness, like giving birth. Circle in many ways, came through her birth canal.
So, what kept us together through it all? Friendship. And that’s what Circle is about.
PS We are going to have a celebratory dinner together. I know my forever Virgo love will be right there. His energy has never left me.
PSS Now we have to figure out together HTF to market out book!!!!!