Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Today I celebrated my August birthday with my BFF, and we made a pact. We are both women of a certain age & our paths are getting twistier as we proceed on our journeys. The pact was that each of us would write a page and post it to a new blog. So here is Writer in the Garret, and with it Wisdom Courtyard, which is based on an idea.
I am a novelist with three published books to my credit, and for the last umpteen years I’ve been working on a trilogy about Wisdom Court. This is a place where women are invited to live for a year with total financial support. Anything these women want to do, be it research, artistic creation, writing the great American novel–anything can be done. The only requirement is that the recipient has to live most of that year at Wisdom Court, which is located in Boulder, Colorado.
The first novel of the trilogy has to do with Andrea Bellamy, a forensic artist from Oregon who wants to develop her talents as a fine artist. The founder of Wisdom Court, Caldicott Wytham, bought one of Andrea’s paintings some years ago, and she has invited Andrea to spend a year at the renowned women’s institute. When Andrea arrives in Boulder, she finds that what has appeared to be the chance of a lifetime is more complicated than she thought it would be, and more dangerous.
So much for the tease, at least for tonight. The notion of Wisdom Court arose from the collision of two ideas: Virginia Woolf said that every woman needs a room of her own. At Wisdom Court, each woman gains a year of her own to do what she wants. The very possibility is irresistible. Combine with that a faint memory of the old TV show, The Millionaire. As a child I watched each week as the show’s characters received one million tax-free dollars from John Beresford Tipton, an eccentric millionaire (surely he must have been a billionaire to fund so many people!). The stories lay in the reactions of the characters to sudden wealth, and the repercussions of disaster, unintended consequences, and, occasionally, sweet justice, were wonderful fodder for my burgeoning imagination. I loved watching these people as they dealt with something that was not only unexpected, but was also anonymously given. Without knowing how the choices were made, the recipients were left to decide their own worthiness to receive such a gift, and frequently the moral issues really messed with their minds. Heh-heh. I was fascinated, and the seed of Wisdom Court was planted with those episodes, which, if I were to watch them today, would probably disappoint me. I hope not.
One of the reasons my BFF and I made the pact tonight was that we’re both standing at personal crossroads. Decisions must be made, actions must be taken–you get the drift. I’m about to finish the latest revision of the first Wisdom Court novel, Edge of the Shadow, whereupon I will begin again to compose scintillating letters to literary agents in an attempt to peddle the book to editors. I really do want my baby to be read by all of you out there. What has made the whole endeavor more interesting than just composing those letters is that while I’ve been writing the book(s)–with a number of Byzantine detours as life has gotten in the way–the entire publishing industry has transformed. The traditional publishing route, which I took three times, has become a much different proposition. And blogs and websites and other such entities have become members of the publishing community(ies), and I’m trying gamely to keep up with the changes.
So, as I look at what I’ve typed, I see that I’m opening a conversation that is–so far–with myself alone. What I intend to do with this blog is periodically reflect what happens during the next year as I try once more to complete the circuit between writer and readers. I’ve missed having my words read and responded to. I’m ready to prep myself for the battle by sending out missives from behind the lines. I look forward to hearing from any and all of you who might read this. I’ll answer your responses as I can, and will be as respectful of them as you are of mine.