I'm originally from Portland, OR but currently live in Tampa, FL. I'm a big fan of sunshine, warmth, and actually being able to swim in the ocean when I visit the beach - if there must be a contest, Tampa wins hands-down (much to my family's disappointment).
I have been storytelling since before I could write. When I was younger, I’d either force an older family member to write down whatever story I was weaving, or I’d enjoy scaring my younger siblings by telling them a creepy story. Though I still do both of those things on occasion, I’ve graduated to more sophisticated forms of writing and will, gladly, soon be releasing my first novella (look for it in January 2019).
I have a B.A. in English Literature from the University of Central Florida. I am always grateful for my degree because it keeps me company at night when I’d otherwise be alone because I have no pets or plants.
Perhaps the title is a little out of touch with the rest of the world. Most people would likely argue that the world slowed down in 2020 and then fast forwarded in 2021 as everyone desperately tried to catch up. It would probably read better if I had substituted the ‘the’ for ‘my’, because finally, my world has slowed down.
I touched briefly in my last update (over a year ago) that I was attending grad school. In fact, I was attending grad school, working full-time and working part-time for a few months. It was all good fun. But now I’m, thankfully, graduated with a Master’s degree, have left both of my old jobs for a new one, and have found myself with an abundance of free time that I have mostly used to catch up on my reading and old tv shows. Oh, and I’ve done some writing, too! (I also spruced up my website in case you hadn’t noticed).
Yes, writing. You read that right. I’ve been making some decent progress, not to toot my own horn or anything. Not to give anything away, but I made myself cry while writing a recent passage. It’s hard, guys, knowing what’s going to happen before it happens.
“This is how you do it: you sit down at the keyboard and you put one word after another until it’s done. It’s that easy, and that hard.”
I’m currently working on the third draft of a story I started two years ago; after the publication ofJust Down the Street, Across the Ocean, and before I started grad school. I’d love to update you on details such as the length or wordcount, but, honestly, I do not know because I am writing it by hand in a beautiful journal given to me by a couple of writer friends. When it’s full, I’ll start typing it up and sharing excerpts, I promise. But for now, just know it’s very different than my debut novella. Or I think it is anyway. How would I know, really?
Lastly, if you’ve made it this far, I want to say thank you for reading this. And, also, thank you to many of you for the encouraging words. I’ll never stop being surprised by people commenting that they can’t wait to read my next book. Really? Are you sure you mean my next book? You are all awesome!
With that being said, feel free to drop me a comment and let me know what you guys have been up to. Develop any new hobbies over the last couple of years? Read any good books? I’d love to hear from you!
It’s been awhile since I have posted any updates. As some of you may know, I started grad school back in the Fall and, unfortunately, have not had much time to update my website. Or write for that matter. During the past two semesters, I have thought about it often and have longed to work on my novel (which I failed at completing before I started grad school).
Thankfully, I’m in-between semesters now and, with the pandemic, have had ample time to continue work on my novel. To that end, I wanted to post a short story that I’m removing from my novel that has no other home. The story that I will be sharing with you was meant to be the prologue for the novel, but upon re-evaluation I felt that it no longer belonged. I still love it, however, and wanted to share it with you all. Proof that I have been writing! Haha!
So, enjoy this short story that is probably too short to even be called a short story. Hopefully, I will get to update you all at least once more before Summer semester begins!
A Story Without an Ending
The man with no shoes ran every morning. I saw him every day, Monday through Friday, on my route to work. It was a long stretch of road, there was often traffic and I would just sit in my car and watch him jogging past all the cars until he took a right into the sheltering neighborhood. Seeing him was the highlight of my morning and if there was ever a morning that I was running late and would miss him, it would put me off. I never took a picture or recorded him, I never put him on social media, though of course the thought crossed my mind. But then I would think, would they understand him? This man who just needed to go for a run, rain or shine, without his shoes?
I moved. A new city. A new job. There was no man with no shoes jogging his way along the highway during my new commute. I knew he was where I had left him. I had left but he was still there, diligently trekking along. Nothing had changed in his world. Everything had changed in mine.
Two years after I moved, my job sent me and another coworker to a seminar. Eight hours to sit in a conference room and listen to someone drone on about something I could care less about. My manager was excited for me to get the training and I was excited for a whole day that I didn’t have to spend at the office.
When my coworker and I arrived, we were ushered to a small, dingy conference room. It was so cold I could see my breath and I could certainly see the bucket in the middle of the room catching the slowly dripping water coming from the ceiling. I sniffed and the undeniable odor of mildew hit my nose.
“At least they have tables. The last one of these things I went to we had to sit at desks like we were in school,” said a male voice behind me.
I quickly spun around and noticed a gentleman clipping a nametag to the pocket of his shirt that read “Allen.” My eyes moved from the nametag to his face and I suddenly found myself speechless. It was him. The man with no shoes.
My eyes darted to his feet. Shoes. Well-worn loafers, in fact.
“You like them?” he asked.
I tore my eyes from his shoes and glanced back at his face. He was grinning and his kind eyes were resting on me.
“To be honest, I’ve had these shoes forever. Can’t find it in me to buy new ones. I don’t like shoes. I try not to wear them when I can get away with it,” he shrugged and started to move past me, “Unfortunately, these things have a dress code.”
I was about to follow him when he turned back around, “I know you saw the nametag, but I like proper introductions. My name’s Allen,” he said and stuck out his hand.
I returned the smile and took his hand, “Judith.”
“Nice to meet you, Judith,” and before I could reply he turned back around and took a seat at the front of the room.
My coworker leaned into my ear and whispered, “That was weird, right?”
I lowered my eyes and shrugged, “Where do you wanna sit?”
We took a seat in the middle of the room, somewhere we would get lost in the sea of faces, but also somewhere that I could keep an eye on Allen.
The Presenter introduced herself and made us go around the room to do the same. Allen volunteered to start and I found myself sitting on the edge of my seat.
There was nothing extraordinary about his introduction – “I’m a manager for a company that sells fleece blankets. Don’t ask me why a fleece blanket company is based in Florida, the owners like the irony I guess,” the whole class laughed. “We ship blankets all over the country. My god people love blankets. Honestly, how many of you own a fleece blanket?” the entire class raised their hands. “See? All you fine people are keeping me employed. Isn’t life funny?” he grinned over the entire class before turning back to the Presenter who, returning the grin, took the cue and moved on to the next person in the room.
The rest of the introductions went by quickly and without flair. When my turn came, I glanced at Allen to find him attentively watching me, like he had watched everyone. In my quick glance, I thought I had noticed him wink at me. It did nothing to change my boring, standard, introduction that didn’t make anyone laugh and no one remembered as soon as I stopped speaking. When I was done, I snuck a glance back at Allen and found that he had also moved on to the next introduction. I was slightly disappointed in both myself and Allen. I’m not sure sure what I expected; maybe a joke at my expense or possibly, probably, most definitely, for him to stand up, kick off his shoes, and announce, “I run without shoes and you can’t stop me,” as he ran himself right out of the conference room. That didn’t happen and, instead, he listened to the rest of the introductions and politely paid attention to the Presenter. The Presenter whose presentation I already forgot.
I’m not exactly sure when, but at some point during the presentation I made my mind up to ask Allen to lunch. I knew it might be a slight annoyance to my coworker to have a third wheel and a stranger no less, but there was nothing in that moment I wanted more than to spend time with him. At that point, when I decided to invite him to lunch, I think I may have vaguely realized that I was obsessed with this man. This man who I knew, though didn’t really know, was the man with no shoes. It wasn’t until much later that I realized how badly I needed to know for sure that I was right.
As soon as the Presenter announced that it was time to break for lunch, I made my way across the room and around the bucket to Allen. He smiled at me as I approached the table and, collecting his things, he stood up and waved.
Waving back I asked, “I noticed that you were alone and was wondering if you’d like to join me and my coworker at lunch today?”
The smile on his face spread wider and he replied, “I would love to.”
My coworker and I rode together. The spot that we had picked out was only five minutes away and we rode in relative silence. I thought she might ask me why I had invited Allen to join us, but she knew I was relatively outgoing and would occasionally make friends with strangers when we went out together. She must not have sensed that this was any different; even if it seemed glaringly obvious to me.
By the time we had gotten our food and found where he was sitting, he had already finished eating half of his lunch. I couldn’t figure out how he had gotten so far ahead of us, but before I could ask he asked first, “How long have you ladies been in Florida for?”
“I’ve lived here my whole life,” my coworker replied.
“Ah, a native. You don’t meet too many of those.”
“I’ve been in Florida for almost eight years.”
“Eight years, huh? What brought you here? School?”
I had just taken another bite of my sandwich, so I responded with a nod.
He rubbed his chin.
“Well, I double that. I’ve been here for sixteen years. I moved here from Michigan. It’s so damn cold there. You gotta wear shoes all the time. And the worst kind of shoes, boots. I remember it clear as day when it was that I decided to move down here. I had just gotten home from work in the middle of January and tore off these big clunking boots. My feet were still so cold that I immediately sat down and wrapped them up with a fleece blanket. My wife came with a cup of hot tea and I told her, ‘Lorraine, we need to move somewhere warm. My feet are too cold here and I don’t think I can take it anymore’ and right when I said that, I kid you not, I noticed the tag on the fleece blanket that said ‘Made in Florida.’ The very next day I called the company to see if they had any openings and then a week later I was moving my family down to Florida and throwing those boots in the garbage,” he paused to take a sip of his water and then continued, “My wife, well, she liked the cold. After a couple of years in Florida she decided she couldn’t take it anymore and moved herself and the kids back to Michigan. I never visited them up there and now they never ask me to.”
My coworker and I quickly exchanged glances.
“I’m sorry,” we both responded.
He shrugged, “I used to feel sorry for myself, but then I gave a dead man my shoes,” and then he slowly wiped his mouth with his napkin, let the napkin fall from his hand to his plate, and stood up from his seat.
“Well, ladies, I’m gonna get a move on,” he said as he grabbed his tray and started pivoting toward the door.
My coworker and I exchanged quizzical glances, he hadn’t finished his food and we had another thirty minutes before lunch was over.
As we watched him walk out the door, my coworker muttered, “Judith, this is why you don’t talk to strangers.”
I ignored her and watched Allen as he left the restaurant. Once he was outside, he stepped to the side of the entrance, slipped off his shoes without bending over, and then walked away.
That was the last time I saw the man with no shoes.
I’m embarrassed to admit that it has been almost two months since my last post. Life has become hectic, as it often does, and I have not made the time to update my website the way that I should. With that being said, I have been writing. Progress on my new novel has been slowly crawling along despite everything that is currently going on in my life.
This was not always the case. Being able to make time to work on my novel amongst the busyness of life was not always an easy thing for me to do. I know I am not the only writer who runs into this problem. It is something that plagues us all and we have to constantly work at it in order to accomplish our goals (which I would venture to say is just to finish writing the damn book already). I thought I would share some helpful steps that I have taken toward overcoming the “I’m too busy” mindset.
Join a writing group. This was the first, and probably the most effective, step I took toward dedicating time to write. I joined my writing critique group back around March 2017. At that time, I was attempting to rewrite Just Down the Street, Across the Ocean. And by attempting, I mean I had not written a single word in eight to ten months. I needed something to motivate me to write. Joining a writing group did that. This group not only held me accountable for submitting new and revised work, they helped me grow as a writer. They offered guidance in areas of growth and helped my find my voice. They not only encouraged me to complete my novella, but gave me the confidence to self-publish it. Throughout the last two years, there have been times that my commitment to the group has wavered, but I have always found myself returning.
Set a goal. This one may seem a bit obvious, and I’ve talked about it in my post Mondays are Good Days to Talk About Goals, but I can’t stress it enough, goals are important. They keep you accountable. If you are not the type of person who can keep yourself accountable, tell someone who will keep you accountable (like someone in your writing group!). Right now, my goal is to make time to write at least one page a week. If you think about it, this is actually a pretty small goal and can still be difficult to keep. Again, life is busy and writing is hard. This is why goals are important. If I decide that I’m too tired after work throughout the week to work on that one page, then I know Saturday morning I’m waking up, brewing some coffee, turning on my laptop, turning off my phone, and getting to work. That page is getting written, however painstakingly. Slow progress is better than no progress.
Make a deadline. Goals keep you on track in the day-to-day, deadlines keep you on track in the long term. When I was working on Just Down the Street, Across the Ocean, I made a deadline of having a finalized draft by the Summer of 2018. Not only did the deadline keep me on track, but it stopped me from getting in the cycle of rewriting, editing, rewriting, editing, and so on and so forth. I was then able to move on to my next goal of trying to get it published. I gave myself six months for someone to pick it up and then, as you know, I would self-publish it. Yes, it was a long process, but at least it is done. And now I am free to work on my next novel and focus on my new goal of completing my first draft of my new book by September 2019.
Basically, find the time to write. Make room for it in your schedule. That’s what all these helpful steps boil down to; they force you to think about writing and set aside time to focus on only that. Finding time to write isn’t going to magically happen, you have to actively plan it into your daily/weekly/monthly routine. Find an accountability partner (or partners!) to keep you on track and stop making excuses. So really, the only question that remains is, what are you waiting for? Go write!
My journal. The one that I took with me everywhere. The one I wrote Just Down the Street, Across the Ocean in. The one that I took with me to Paris cafes, the beach in Miami, the pool in Ft. Lauderdale. What do I do with you now? Well, to start, I wrote you a love letter.
Transcript. I’m not sure what to do with you now that the book is published. When I open you and feel your pages, I can feel it all over again. The joy and, of course, the pain. Oh yes, the pain. I was only first beginning to learn what I know now. The answer to the broken sprinkler and the tears that stain these pages.
When I flip through you, you tell more than one story. There are loose pages, receipts, hotel memos, stuffed within you that threaten to fall out and get lost forever. Memories that threaten to get lost with the passage of time.
What shall I do with you now? Fill the rest of these empty pages? Leave you to get dusty and yellow? Forget you until I need you to help me heal again?
I don’t have the answers. But I will do what I always do, I will write until it all makes sense.
Well, maybe not the best week, but certainly the best day of my life fell within this week. You might say what my boss said, “Rachel, that is a bold claim,” and I will tell you what I told her, “But you haven’t seen what I’m about to show you yet.”
Let’s start with Tuesday, January 22nd – the day I finally became a published author. Ok, first of all, I was a mess. I woke up around 5 AM, before my alarm clock went off, hopped out of bed, made a big pot of coffee, and turned my laptop on. Before my laptop was fully booted up, I had finished my first cup of coffee, quickly jumped up, got myself a refill, and plopped myself back down, thankful I didn’t have to impatiently stare at my computer as it warmed up (which takes, like, what, maybe one minute?). I IMMEDIATELY check my reports and find that five people (FIVE PEOPLE) have already downloaded my book. Furthermore, three of those five people bought it before the free promo kicked in and I was already almost on the floor crying because how cool is it that I made actual money off of something I created? After posting on social media, I texted all my friends. By this time, it was 6 AM. And it was not until I wrote this post that I wondered how I still have friends after texting them that early in the morning.
Between then and when I left for work at 9:30 AM, I was a ball of energy, floating between getting ready for work, texting those friends that were awake, keeping an eye on my stats, watching as my wonderful friends shared my book on social media. I found myself incredibly grateful for work, I needed that kind of distraction.
Very few people at work knew that I was self-publishing my book. I didn’t tell my coworkers on purpose, my thought process being, “if they don’t like it, I will have to see them every day and know that they have horrible taste in literature and I just don’t think I can live with that.” My boss was one of three people in the office who knew and, immediately upon seeing her for the first time Tuesday morning, she shouted, “Congratulations Author Rachel Potts!”
To which I replied without hesitation, “Thanks! The only problem is, now that I’ve achieved my only real goal in life, I guess I can just die now.”
After which, completely deadpan, she said, “You’re a psychopath.”
The rest of the day was a bit of a blur. In-between work, I probably checked my stats every hour (definitely way more than that), I made plans with friends for when I got off because I knew I shouldn’t be home alone. And then I canceled all those plans and picked up overtime hours at work because there’s nothing like working a twelve hour day to tire myself out of the frenzy I had gotten myself into.
And it worked. By the time I got off, all I wanted to do was go home, watch an episode of Supernatural, and go to bed. I was so tired that I didn’t even check my stats before I turned off the lights.
The next day, Wednesday, January 23rd I woke up less anxious than the day before. I felt calmer when I made my coffee, more patient while I waited for my computer to respond. But, like yesterday, the first thing I did was check my stats.
Unlike yesterday, however, I gasped when I saw that my book had moved up to the #9 spot in the Free Kindle: Literary Fiction category. I clicked on the listing because, naturally, I needed to see my book in a top list. I was already grinning ear-to-ear when I saw it, my book casually keeping This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald company in the #8 spot. I stopped breathing. F. Scott Fitzgerald. One of my literary heroes. My name is next to…. I took a picture, sent it to all my friends (again, at like, 6 in the morning), posted it on my social media, and then, finally taking another breath, I cried. Like, wept. All morning, all the way to work, at work when I told people about it (because I HAD to tell them now). When I showed the picture of my book next to F. Scott Fitzgerald, my boss understood why Wednesday, January 23rd and not Tuesday, January 22nd, actually was the best day of my life.
All day I received texts and messages of encouragement from family and friends and people I hadn’t spoken to in years. People sent pictures of themselves downloading/reading my book and I cried some more.
I worked another twelve hour day and, again, it kept me distracted and calm. It also exhausted me, which again was wonderful because I was easily able to fall asleep when I got home late at night.
When I woke up on Thursday, January 24th I was still exhausted. All I wanted to do was roll over and sleep for the whole day. It’s strange, I can’t imagine why I was so tired. . .
I volunteer every other Thursday morning and this was one of those Thursdays. So, I forced myself out of bed, got ready, checked my stats, and was back at it by 10 AM.
When I checked my stats that morning, I had already surpassed my goal of 50 downloads for the entire free period. It was an amazing feeling and I was so excited. Unfortunately, I was so worn out that I couldn’t express my excitement at all. I didn’t realize until that morning that I had been running off of adrenaline the last two days.
After my volunteer hours, I went to work for my eight hour shift and felt like a zombie. I had been texting a friend about my state of being that day and about my stats and he told me that I should be careful not to obsess over the numbers. I wanted to argue, but quickly realized he was right. I had been too obsessed over the numbers the last two days. I resolved not to check my stats while I was at work that day. I checked them twice. At least that was an improvement, right?
I think it goes without saying that, as soon as I got home, I crashed into my bed. The last thought in my head was, thank goodness tomorrow’s Friday.
I’m going to combine both Friday, January 25th and Saturday, January 26th because they both went by quickly and, feeling much calmer, I was able to detach myself from my computer and phone and mostly act like it was just another normal day.
Friday night after work, I went home and indulged in cake and ice cream for dinner. It was the best way I knew how to celebrate by myself, eating my two favorite foods while watching Supernatural. Don’t hate.
Saturday, I went shopping with a friend and bought a new lipstick to celebrate (which I wore to celebrate my book release with some friends on Monday, January 28th) and then my friend took me out to get champagne so we could toast to my authorness (yes, I made that word up). Later that same day, I had another friend come over and we ate pizza and drank rum and coke while we watched my favorite Hitchcock movie, Vertigo.
It was a weird way to celebrate, considering I’m usually always extra about these kinds of things. Honestly though, it was exactly what I needed and I don’t think I could have planned anything to beat it.
In total, I had 168 downloads during the free promo, well exceeding my goal. THANK YOU to everyone who downloaded, shared, texted, and told friends & family to get my book. I couldn’t have done it without you!
I am forever incredibly grateful for the army of friends and family who have stood behind me and supported me throughout this writing journey. I would never have finished it without your encouragement and help.
I also want to thank my sister, Shawna Resnick, and my friend, Lindsey Russell, who traveled to Paris & Brest with me as research for the book. It was really hard convincing them to come with me, but in the end, I don’t think they regretted it too much.
Thanks for putting up with my terribly embarrassing attempts at French (I tried once, failed miserably, and basically made them order for me the rest of the trip) and for figuring out the metro system for me. If it weren’t for you, I would probably still by standing, staring at a map of the Paris metro with a confused look on my face, unable to ask for assistance. And in case you were wondering, the answer is yes, we ate so many Napoleons and drank so much wine.
I’d like to thank my sisters Bekah Potts and Julia Back for helping me make this book come to life. My website would probably be a weird static page with a picture of me looking horrified if it weren’t for Julia’s skills. Bekah painted the gorgeous cover page for my book. She took a very vague description that I gave her and turned it into nothing short of perfection. Seriously, you two are incredibly talented and I have never considered myself as lucky as I do in this moment that you both didn’t grow up to hate me after all the times I tortured you in our youth.
Last but not least, thank you to everyone who takes the time to read my book. You make the dream come alive.
Just Down the Street, Across the Ocean is now available on Kindle!
The cover, synopsis, and publication date have FINALLY been finalized. Guess what? You get to see it all first! Check it out!
The main character, Katherine, takes a break from her average, boring life; a life that has slowly drained her of the energy and happiness she once knew. A neighbor’s broken sprinkler inspired community gossip and disapproval, making Katherine question what her life has really come down to and where it is going. Out of nowhere, she quits her job and travels to Paris to pursue her dream of becoming a writer and to find a part of herself that is missing. Will Paris have the answers she’s looking for or will she further lose herself?
Just Down the Street, Across the Ocean is NOW AVAILABLE on Kindle!
As someone who couldn’t get herself out of bed early enough to go to the gym before work this morning, I thought today would be a good day to talk about goals. Well, my goals specifically. I wouldn’t pretend to know enough information to provide guidance on achieving goals in general (says the girl who took three years to publish her own novella), so my apologies if you clicked this link looking for advice.
Side note: I am terrible at giving advice. I’m one of those people that will say, “Well, I sure as hell wouldn’t put up with it. Oh but, you know, we’re different so….”
I’m actually pretty good at completing goals, believe it or not. It just always takes me longer to complete them than I originally planned. This is just in my personal life, by the way. My professional life is on point, which, honestly, makes it even more frustrating for me. Knowing that I’m capable of completing something quickly and thoroughly when it’s for someone else, but apparently not having enough respect for myself to maintain the same level of performance. Why does procrastination feel so good?
At this point, you know that one of my goals since 2016 is to publish Just Down the Street, Across the Ocean. I’m so close to accomplishing this that I’m literally dealing with nausea-inducing nerves everyday and it’s great! So, why did it take me so long to do it? I’d say for, mostly, arguably good reasons. But definitely also because of procrastination. I’ll own that and quit trying to justify it. I’m learning a lot from this experience of self-publishing and, hopefully, it will prevent me from falling into the same traps when I try to publish my next book.
My next book? Yes, my next book. I’ve started work on another novel and I am both excited and exhausted. It feels incredible to finally have a new project to work on – especially one that has been slowly developing in my mind for the last couple of years. At this point I’ve written maybe, ten pages? But I’ll never get over that magical feeling when a story goes from just existing in your head to coming alive on paper. That is why I write, to see my characters literally come to life right before my eyes. My goal for this story is to finish the first draft this year. It feels somewhat daunting, especially since I haven’t finished something in you know how long. But more than daunting, writing makes me feel alive and, since working on this new story, I have felt happier and more content than I have in some time. Writing is magic.
I have other goals as well. I want to work on my professional growth and I’m exploring options for what that might mean. I also want to maintain my fitness goals. I’ve been steadily going to the gym since April 2018 and the difference it has made in my life is huge. So far I’ve been doing a good job with that (let’s just ignore the incident this morning).
People say to set small goals for yourself to help you accomplish a larger goal. I’ve found this to be true. It helps deal with procrastination. In fact, it’s the only thing I’ve found that helps me stay focused. I can’t do daily goals, but I can do weekly goals. Instead of setting a goal to write a paragraph every day, it might be to write a page every week. Instead of telling myself that today I’m going to the gym, I’ll say just make sure you go four times this week. That gives me room to have a couple days a week to say, “I don’t feel like it,” and plop myself on the couch in front of my TV without feeling guilty about it. This is what I’ve started to incorporate in my life, slowly at first, and then to more and more things that I want to achieve and it has worked wonders for me. But like I said earlier, “Oh, but, you know, we’re different so…” who knows what will work for you.
I’m ready for 2019 and I’m ready for the challenges it will bring. Let’s just hope I don’t look back at this post six months from now, laugh, and say, “Girl, you were one crazy lady.”
Making the decision to self-publish my novella, Just Down the Street, Across the Ocean, has been one of the most freeing decisions of my life.
I finished the first draft of my novella exactly three years ago (January 2016) and it has been nothing but a long, tenuous journey since. I’ve edited and rewritten it so many times in the past three years that I’ve lost count. Back in January 2018 I told myself that enough was enough and I was going to finally self-publish; and here we are, a year later (and a couple more rewrites) and I’m finally doing it. (It doesn’t matter how long it takes do something, right? As long as it eventually gets done? Right? Right?!)
Rather than focus on my writing journey for this first post, I thought I’d share with you just a couple things that I want you to know about Just Down the Street, Across the Ocean.
Inspiration. I wrote this story to have an excuse to go to Paris. Ok, not really, but it sure gave me a great excuse to go back. This may be cliche (oh, it definitely is), but Paris is my favorite city and I knew I needed to write a story to pay homage to the birthplace to so many pieces of art and works of literature. I am well aware that this is not unique. It has been done hundreds of times and probably will continue to be done a hundred times more. But rather than get bogged down by all the different takes of Paris by all the different authors, I find them invigorating. It was a community and a collection I wanted to be a part of. Just Down the Street, Across the Ocean isn’t “just another” story that takes place in Paris, it is an addition to the ever -growing series of love letters that authors have dedicated to that beautiful city.
The prose. Look, I hate being told what to do. I especially hate being told how I’m supposed to imagine the appearance of a character five chapters after the character has been introduced. Too late, man, Becky is short with brown hair now and there’s nothing you can do about it (not even mentioning her golden locks every chapter until the end of the book). One of my biggest annoyances as a reader is when I would come across a book that contained too much description. Unless the exact number of freckles on Becky’s face is a metaphor for the number of months it will take to get her life together, why is it important to me? And I know a lot of people love prose that is full of detail and description, and that’s ok. I’m just not one of those people. So, I approached my story with the question – how can I be as ambiguous as possible and still get my point across? To no one’s surprise (just kidding, I was floored), the first draft was far too vague. After many rewrites, here is some of the ambiguity that remains and why:
Character description – there is none. It was important for me for readers to be able to imagine my characters to look however they wanted. No one in the story cares about whether the main character in the story is tall, short, fat, slim, muscular, brunette, or blonde, etc., why should you? In this story, the appearance or build of each character adds nothing. I imagine each character a certain way and you will imagine them your own.
Character names – there is one. The main character, Katherine, is the only character who gets a name. Every other character is referred to as the role that they play in her life.This was essential because it hones in the focus even more so on her character development. It was meant as a statement, “this story is about Katherine, what she is going through, and what she would always inevitably go through no matter who the other people in her life were.”
Let me be clear, this is an experiment. I have no idea whether it will be successful or not. I’ve had many people tell me to add more, but, being my stubborn self, I have argued against it. Will I ever do it again? Probably not. Writing a whole story and only referring to characters by their roles was hard!
That’s it. I don’t want to give too much more away, but this story was a passion project for me. I’m incredibly excited and overly nervous to finally be releasing it out into the world. With the publication of this novella, I’m freeing up headspace for my next story and, I guess also kind of just as importantly, achieving a lifelong dream of becoming a published author.