Five Days On A (Sorta) Desert Island

I’ve posted about struggling up cliffs above a rocky Canaries coastline. I’ve shared “scaling” a live volcano. Back on Friday, in an especial fit of insanity – perhaps the broken Internet had something to do with it? – we trekked Masca Gorge here on Tenerife up from the bay (NOT down from the top of the gorge to the bay, as most people do), a distance of nearly 5 miles.

View from the top of Masca Gorge, Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain. [Photo by me, 2016.]
View from the top of Masca Gorge, Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain. [Photo by me, 2016.]

The lack of Internet from Wednesday through half of Monday also meant time around the apartment was often “free” time. But you can only sit in the sun so much; listen to your music so much; read other books – however good – so much. I finally decided to spread out and spend some hours doing serious work on Conventions.

In doing so, I’ve been discovering I’m also in a different state of writing mind than ever before. My three previous efforts were produced one at a time, in (literally) chronological order. Now, for the first time in over three years, I have one novel (over 20,000 words so far) well underway and the next simultaneously in my thoughts…. as well as fragments of it in my computer, too.

For I’d found myself drawn several times into typing bits and pieces for that latter book: a fourth Atlantic Lives novel. I even wrote a couple of versions of the opening chapter – which picks up from where Distances leaves us. And it’s a “punch in the face,” too. (As we all have learned, if you write, an opening chapter in any book nowadays has to “grab” a reader and “hold ’em.”)

So book “Number 4” is now no longer merely bouncing around vaguely in my head, but is “alive” in its earliest stages. However, that still-untitled next volume in the series is firmly on the back burner for now. Still, how our minds function: when ideas hit you, you MUST get them down in case you lose them. You can’t just entirely “switch off.”

Novels so far, print edition covers.
Novels so far, print edition covers.

I realized this too over those recent days. Considering the series as a whole so far, the story’s general tone and characterizations progress almost “seasonally” in a rhetorical sense novel by novel. I hadn’t planned it that way, but they turned out that way.

Passports is mostly fresh and optimistic, like “springtime.” Frontiers is more the “high summer” we may have once known in our own ways ourselves, when, while enjoying the gorgeous weather, brief downpours may also drench us all too suddenly; and we also sense the days are growing shorter. Distances suggests increasing maturity, the “autumnal,” a fireside populated by mostly familiar faces, as well as by some new ones, and although there is still bright sunshine, frosts also arrive; and as the nights close in the obviously shortening days now also start to feel much colder.

Thus what no Internet may also do to you: you end up “thinking” – perhaps too much. 😉

Conventions, though, is a whole new thing – a stand alone, historical novel of the late eighteenth century. Yet I’ve learned by now that when writing none of us can escape ourselves: despite whatever different tale we may concoct, like a fingerprint, our style is our style. I thought I’d finally share with you here a glimpse into one chapter:

A sneak peek into "Conventions." Click to enlarge.
A sneak peek into “Conventions.” Click to enlarge.

That may be 1781, but it’s not entirely without some “linkage” to the recent present. Does one name in that excerpt ring a bell? It should:

Excerpt from "Passports," on the iPad app for Kindle. Click to expand.
Excerpt from “Passports,” on the iPad app for Kindle. Click to expand.

Naturally, I couldn’t resist including the then young (and real-life) Alexandre-Théodore.

By the way, that’s not the major “plot point” I mentioned yesterday, which includes real historical people carefully intermixed with fictional ones. It’s too early in the writing for me to give away hints yet as to their identities and what it’s about. That’ll wreck the surprise! 😉

Posted by

Author: “Conventions: The Garden At Paris,” “Passports,” “Frontiers,” and “Distances.” British Airways frequent flier. Lover of the Catskill Mountains...and the 1700s. New novel of 1797-1805, "Tomorrow The Grace," due out in 2019.