Longhand

I rarely write longhand.  Generally, I type my way through manuscripts, though I’ll jot down dialogue or a scene idea in a journal if it occurs to me sometime in the night.  But this weekend, I wrote multiple scenes longhand.  Even edited, and rewrote several of them.  My journal a mess of arrows and dashes and sketched dialogue.
 
At 2 a.m., I woke with another idea — the final troublesome scene made clear — and wrote it out in the dark, spacing the words, in what I hope, is a legible fashion.  The thrill of discovery is back, that urgent impulse to communicate, to get it all down, to carve out the final shape.

2 thoughts on “Longhand”

  1. How many times have I waked from a sound sleep with the solution in my head, with lines of dialogue, paragraphs of description, already formed and waiting to be written down? Where do they come from, as we sleep?

    I have often advised other writers, novices, not yet ready to declare themselves “real” writers, to keep a pen and pad beside the bed. Some laugh at me. Others nodd as if I had just imparted the secret thing all writers do.
    It’s just a thing, and to not be ready to catch it up when it delivers itself is wasteful.
    (“I don’t know nothin’ ’bout birthin’ no babies. . . “)
    “Real” writer or amateur, when words come, from wherever they originate, sleep, dreams, subconscious, simply writing them down is the first act.
    “A writer is a person who writes.” Is that Steinbeck again? Maybe. But catching the live, wriggling birth as out it spurts, that’s part of the messy job of a writer. To serve as our own midwife, to accept that the first thing is to write. Taking what we are given, stealing what we can, improvising and shifting and finally claiming that thing that just appeared in the night, unannounced, without a point of origin, as our own.
    It’s actually kind of neat, to emerge hours later, after writing like an automaton listening to a voice from somewhere else, to see what has been committed to paper.

  2. It is neat. Like a visitation or a haunting or something. It feels like an incident is whispered to me. I’m observing the scene, as I often do in dreams, and then I wake, and feel the weight of it on my chest.

    This conduit — whatever it is — is often how I first get a story. An image, or a character, or some exchange that wakes me.

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Jill Malone

Jill Malone grew up in a military family, went to German kindergarten, and lived across from a bakery that made gummi bears the size of mice. She has lived on the East Coast and in Hawaii, and for the last seventeen years in Spokane with her son, two dogs, a hedgehog, and a lot of outdoor gear. She looks for any excuse to play guitar. Jill is married to a performance artist and addiction counselor who makes the best risotto on the planet.

Giraffe People is her third novel. Her first novel, Red Audrey and the Roping, was a Lambda finalist and won the third annual Bywater Prize for Fiction. A Field Guide to Deception, her second novel, was a finalist for the Ferro-Grumley, and won the Lambda Literary Award and the Great Northwest Book Festival.

Giraffe People

Giraffe People

Between God and the army, fifteen-year-old Cole Peters has more than enough to rebel against. But this Chaplain’s daughter isn’t resorting to drugs or craziness. Truth to tell, she’s content with her soccer team and her band and her white bread boyfriend.

And then, of course, there’s Meghan.

Meghan is eighteen years old and preparing for entry into West Point. For this she has sponsors: Cole’s parents. They’re delighted their daughter is finally looking up to someone. Someone who can tutor her and be a friend.

But one night that relationship changes and Cole’s world flips.

Giraffe People is a potent reminder of the rites of passage and passion that we all endure on our road to growing up and growing strong. Award-winning author Jill Malone tells a story of coming out and coming of age, giving us a take that is both subtle and fresh.

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A Field Guide to Deception

A Field Guide to Deception

In Jill Malone’s second novel, A Field Guide to Deception, nothing is as simple as it appears: community, notions of motherhood, the nature of goodness, nor even compelling love. Revelations are punctured and then revisited with deeper insight, alliances shift, and heroes turn anti-hero—and vice versa.

With her aunt’s death Claire Bernard loses her best companion, her livelihood, and her son’s co-parent. Malone’s smart, intriguing writing beguiles the reader into this taut, compelling story of a makeshift family and the reawakening of a past they’d hoped to outrun. Claire’s journey is the unifying tension in this book of layered and shifting alliances.

A Field Guide to Deception is a serious novel filled with snappy dialogue, quick-moving and funny incidents, compelling characterizations, mysterious plot twists, and an unexpected climax. It is a rich, complex tale for literary readers.

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Red Audrey and the Roping

Red Audrey and the Roping

Occasionally a debut novel comes along that rocks its readers back on their heels. Red Audrey and the Roping is one of that rare and remarkable breed. With storytelling as accomplished as successful literary novelists like Margaret Atwood and Sarah Waters, Jill Malone takes us on a journey through the heart of Latin professor Jane Elliot.

Set against the dramatic landscapes and seascapes of Hawaii, this is the deeply moving story of a young woman traumatized by her mother’s death. Scarred by guilt, she struggles to find the nerve to let love into her life again. Afraid to love herself or anyone else, Jane falls in love with risk, pitting herself against the world with dogged, destructive courage. But finally she reaches a point where there is only one danger left worth facing. The sole remaining question for Jane is whether she is willing to accept her history, embrace her damage, and take a chance on love.

As well as a gripping and emotional story, Red Audrey and the Roping is a remarkable literary achievement. The breathtaking prose evokes setting, characters, and relationships with equal grace. The dialogue sparks and sparkles. Splintered fragments of narrative come together to form a seamless suspenseful story that flows effortlessly to its dramatic conclusion.

Winner of the Bywater Prize for Fiction, Red Audrey and the Roping is one of the most memorable first novels you will ever read.

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