In 2007, I participated in National Novel Writing Month. I produced a draft of a book, much of it set in Athens, Ohio. The problem was I hadn’t been to Athens since 1978. I was going from pure memory.
My plan was to work on revising the novel, so when I made a trip to Ohio in 2008 I enlisted my niece Cheryl to be my tour guide around Athens. She graduated Ohio University in 2006, so had recent memories of the place.
On a beautiful late July day, we drove to Athens. Cheryl has a degree in Journalism and works as a writer, so she was the perfect companion to assist me in my writing project. We spent the day at the University and around the town. The locations of certain places were quite different than my memory had allowed, and Cheryl also introduced me to some places I wasn’t familiar with, like the unmarked graves of the patients of a former mental hospital, and the other graveyard with the angel statue that is said to cry real tears. All great stuff for my book. I insisted we go to Stroud’s Run, a park that I recall going to for cook-outs when my boyfriend went to school at OU.
On the way home, we stopped in Columbus to catch up with her sisters Emily and Kim. All in all it was a great day.
And the novel — hasn’t been touched since. By the time I got home in early August school was starting once again. I did do some more planning work around the book, and I have my notes. Not sure if or when I will ever get back to it.
Perhaps my inspiration is near. I just found out that Cheryl will be in Florida next week, and we have plans to get together. As an active and paid writer in our family, she remains a kind of muse to me. Let’s see what happens once we get together again. I know that part of the process of writing involves time and distance, so I don’t feel bad about not pursuing the revision. But now, as I sit and write this, I am thinking that perhaps there is more here for me to think about. So I will. Promise.