Tonight we begin a new story after what seems like forever. I’m probably more relieved than excited to be starting this story because it’s definitely one I’ve struggled with for a very long time. Writing can be funny that way. Some stories come together quickly and practically write themselves. With others it’s like pulling teeth to get anything down on paper; at least that’s the way it is for me.
Some stories are even a mixture of both. I’m working on one now where Part I came quickly and easily. Part II is also coming along the same way although I had to walk away from the story for months before the inspiration for how to finish it finally came to me.
Not that the story is finished, of course, but writing the initial draft has come pretty quickly all in all. By contrast, like I said, writing this one has been a struggle. I think the main reason for that is that I was trying to do too much in the story originally and there were times when it was easy to get lost in the weeds while trying to hold the whole thing together.
From the beginning, however, I felt like there were too many strong scenes in the story to abandon it entirely so I set it aside for a long time. When I finally came back, I tried to simplify it in a variety of ways. I think I’ve done that to some degree, but whether I’ve simplified it enough remains to be seen. You’ll have to be the judge of that.
For all my efforts to simplify, the story is still about a lot of different things. It’s about family and friendship and being on your own for the very first time in life. Family is not a topic I’ve explored very much in my previous stories and how well I do it in this one remains to be seen. I think I’ve done a pretty good job as far I’ve gone, but I probably could have done more.
I’ve explored friendship before, of course, and how friends can be true or false. That gets another look in this story although there are times when I wonder even now whether I’ve overdrawn the point too much.
Being on your own is still another topic the story is about. It seems exciting at first because you’re young and you have all these hopes and dreams you want to fulfill, kind of like a budding author in some ways I suppose :-)
But soon enough life intrudes and you begin to discover it isn’t as easy as you thought it would be. Life has a way of wearing us down and resisting that temptation is not always easy.
In the end I asked myself what was the most important thing I wanted the story to be about? What I decided was that I wanted it to be about first love.
I hope everyone reading this story will try to recall what it was like to be young and to fall in love for the very first time. Whatever else it may have been like for you, it isn’t always easy for some people and that’s what I’ve tried to capture in the story; the tentativeness, the uncertainly, the fears, doubts, insecurities, all masking the flicker of hope that has begun to burn deep inside.
Again, as with everything else, you’ll be the judge of how well I’ve done that. Just keep in mind there’s a difference between love and sex. You’ll get more love, or at least the aspiration for love, than sex in this story :-)
There are a couple of points I need to make. Like with many of my stories, this one takes place in a real American community on a real college campus. And while I’ve tried to keep the community and the college real, there are times when you have to take some license with reality.
While a lot of the places mentioned in the story are real enough (and recognizable if you’re familiar with the area), there are others that are fictional inventions designed to facilitate telling the story. In some cases, I was probably just trying to avoid a slander suit :-)
The point is that the story is ultimately fiction, not fact. Some of the facts of the story are real enough, but others are made up. There’s no need for you to worry about any of this; whether fiction or fact, the people and places are there to contribute to the story narrative, which also mingles fiction and fact.
The Open Door consists of the prologue, which we’ll begin with tonight, and twenty chapters. The prologue and the first seven chapters are narrated by the character you’ll meet this evening. Beginning with Chapter 8, the narration will shift back and forth between the two primary characters although not necessarily from one chapter to the next. In some cases one of the characters may narrate two chapters in a row.
I know some of you saw the prologue when I published it last month as a sneak preview. I’ve only made a few small changes, nothing substantial, so you don’t necessarily have to read it again although it’s shorter than most of the remaining chapters will be. I think you’re earlier comments carried over, but I hope people looking at the prologue for the first time tonight (or whenever) will also feel free to comment.
Just keep in mind that you can comment anonymously, but only if you provide me with a real e-mail address which will not be published. Only first names will be published as part of your comment as well.
Since some of you will be reading it for the first time, I’ll just set the stage by telling you that it takes place late one evening on a college campus in a prominent New England community in contemporary America. The character narrating the prologue is running as fast as he can for reasons that will become evident soon enough. As with all of my stories, italics are typically used to let you know what a character is thinking or saying to himself.
By the way, if you’ve moused over that image up above and are wondering what the embedded message there is all about, Google “three xxxx” where “xxxx” is the word you’ve discovered to find out the answer and learn one of the secrets every freshman at the college is taught soon after arriving on campus.
What you learn will come in handy as well if you’re ever in the area and take a tour of the place. You’ll know how to answer when your tour guide asks why the statue is called what it is and the rest of your group will probably assume you went to school there :-)
In any event, enough with this introduction; have at it and remember to let me know how you feel by leaving a comment at the end of the chapter or by sending me an e-mail.