Well, it’s out there. After twelve years and dozens of drafts, Gone to Southwood is published as an ebook. It is available at http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/471253.
An unsolicited review says, “This really is a great novel. You get drawn into the plight and personalities of the characters from the very first chapter. Looking forward to the sequel.”
One of the early readers (there were 2-3) says, “This is exciting! I get to have a copy of my favorite book! Can’t wait to reconnect with the characters in this story. Congrats Dean!”
It has been over 24 hours and I have not heard from the Pulitzer committee. They must be taking a long weekend.
Of the nearly 30 books we’ve published this one is different. This is not my first novel, but it has a different approach. I was reluctant to hit the “send” button sending the manuscript to the publisher. Carole asked me if I was going to suffer from post-partum depression. I’ve been antsy all day wondering and hoping and being protective. Those are my friends I talked about, after all, and I want people to like them.
Can it be almost 48 hours? Still nothing from the Pulitzers. The biggest deal in the aftermath is self-doubt. Maybe the people who think the story is good are wrong. Yesterday, I cleaned up a problem with the bookmarks and hyperlinks in Mockingbirds at Dawn. I read several pages and was astonished how targeted it is and valuable for the right people. I started reading a book this morning that I ordered 2-3 months ago. I’m in a different place now than then. The writer tells a story I had heard before. Today it hit me with a force ten times more valuable. It speaks to what I am writing and what I’m personally wondering.
A writer must find the right people and then hope to catch them at the right time. So I encourage everyone to get my books and have them handy when the “moment” arrives.
I have wanted two things this summer. I have wanted to stand on a dock with commercial fishing vessels in view and a fresh seafood restaurant close by. The second thing is a desire to sit outside a coffee shop with good coffee and good company. Yesterday, I was sitting in one of our town’s better coffee shops. It has lost its ambiance. At the noon hour, only one other person was in the shop. I thought it was ironic that I was reading an article about a coffee shop some 50 miles away that has captured attention and draws people from miles around. I felt sad for the local shop and I can’t explain what has happened.
What is it that I want or expect from the dock or the shop? Presence, maybe. I think I expect my muse to show up and ideas flow out of the mist into my brain. I want that to happen at church—presence that heals, stimulates, smells like good coffee and music that soothes and stimulates. And a preacher who communicates to that mysterious hunger in me that he couldn’t possibly know about. It is that environment that Millennials desire and feel cheated when they go to church and it is absent.
Isn’t it odd that not just any water or dock will do? We live less than a mile from the Mississippi. We have a new metal dock on the city waterfront. NO! A dock is supposed to be made of wood! Maybe what I’m looking for is “there,” and there is no there, there. I want it to be on the Gulf Coast. To quote Miss Carrie Watts from A Trip to Bountiful, I want to smell the sea.
I proposed to Ms. Carole that we go to that coffee shop fifty miles away, sit outside and drink cappuccino or some exotic coffee blend. She doesn’t want to perspire and she drinks coffee as medicine. One cup in the morning. So I’m going to have to write a story about someone drinking coffee on the dock of the bay while reading the Wall Street Journal and talking to a close friend. I’ll let you in on a secret. In the manuscript Bethany Lodge, there is such a dock where the water laps against the pilasters and the wooden dock has tables where fine coffee is served. Maybe I’ll go there this morning, and talk to a few gathered friends about Gone to Southwood—the movie.
©2014 D. Dean Benton
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