Thursday, August 28, 2014
"Even Better Than Before" - An Excerpt
For the past month or so one question has dominated my conversations with old friends. It's not "What does it feel like to be free to travel?" or "Are you still pissed at Disney World?" It's not even "How's life with just 7 toes?" The question that seems to be on the minds of everyone I chat with these days is this - "How's that novel coming along?"
The answer is not simple. I have written over 50,000 words, which is enough for a complete novel. but most of that poured out of me in June. I have rewritten probably 20,000 of those words as ideas have changed and characters and details are tweaked and refined. The ending has been a challenge, deciding if there will be great reality and some pain or a total Disney-like happy ending for the main characters to reflect a preferred future of my own. But the bottom line is the novel is coming along nicely. I don't really expect it to ever be published, but I do hope to share it with anyone who wants to read it. Someday.
Although it is saved under the code name MGB, the working title of the book is Even Better Than Before.The storyline centers around a group of old friends reuniting for the first time in a number of years in their old stomping ground of North Myrtle Beach. Many of the characters are based on the friends with whom I shared so many marvelous adventures and relationships in the days of my youth. Though none of the characters are based totally on any one person and many of the circumstances, personality traits (and flaws) and details are radically different, some (like the one in the excerpt below) will be easily recognized by my old friends. Others had to be a mixture of various people or the novel would have far too many characters to remember. It is a tale of friendship, conflict, music, grace, redemption and romance. My hope is that it is a reminder of how much impact a small group of friends can have on each others' lives. And it is also a story of "What if?" With a little different timing and a few twists of fate, all of our lives could be different. What if life came with do-overs? Writing fiction lets me explore that in ways reality won't allow.
So here's an excerpt to prove to you I have indeed been up to something these past few months! It is not the very beginning of the novel, but it comes very early on before everyone arrives at the beach. I hope this will wet your appetite for more. Let me know what you think.
The calendar said late May, and it was a perfect day to be driving a ragtop to North Myrtle Beach. Craig Stevens was cruising down Highway 9, his 6’3” frame packed into his classic forest green MGB, top down and the Beach Boys blasting from the stereo. His thinning blonde hair was covered by a baseball cap to prevent sunburn, and those blue eyes that had caused many a young lady to swoon back in the day were covered by a new pair of Oakley’s his sister had given him for his birthday. As he cruised along his mind was spinning. This was all very familiar to him - Memorial Day weekend at Myrtle Beach with his favorite people. It was a trip they had taken so many times before, but this was the first time in nearly 15 years. A lifetime seemed to have passed in the interim. Craig and his wife Nancy had 3 children and 2 dogs. He had spent nearly 20 years as a financial planner and in the process had built quite a comfortable life for his family by being safe, practical and quite often, he admitted to himself, boring. As Do It Again began blaring from the speakers and he felt his foot give the accelerator a tap, he smiled at that thought. This weekend might be many things for many people, but it was hard to see how boring could possibly be among them. It certainly wouldn’t be for him. Craig needed this weekend. He had instigated the planning and was arriving early to be the welcoming committee. Nancy was coming later with his sister and brother-in-law, Allyson and Zach Hinkley. Time with old friends was very important to Craig. The old gang was reuniting and renting the big beach house that had been home to so many memorable moments. It was time to get on with the business of making new memories. The sun, the surf, the sand and some cold beers would help. Old friends would help more. But the thing that had Craig most excited was that at long last he would be there. His best friend. It had been 8 years since they were together, and it felt like an eternity. The Beach Boys sang his feelings. "Well I've been thinking 'bout all the places we surfed and danced and all the faces we've missed so let's get back together and do it again!" He gunned the gas, patted his MG on the dashboard and let out an extremely unsophisticated whoop. “Take me to the Betsy B, Moneypenny” he shouted at his car as they entered Horry County, South Carolina. Funny how at age 45 the word 'Horry" still made him giggle…