I can’t remember when Trish Stewart and I came up with the idea, but I know it came from a mutual admiration for craft. Somewhere along the line we discovered that we had certain similarities and passions. We were both poets. We wrote similar themes when it came to both poetry and fiction. We GOT each other.
So we started a novel and we posted it to the internet, in the form of a blog. Trish wrote the first chapter, I wrote the second chapter, Trish wrote the third chapter…and so on. We had one rule– NO DISCUSSING ANYTHING! She sent me the first chapter, I read it and then she posted it to the blog. Then I wrote the second chapter, sent it to her to read and then I posted it to the blog. We decided from the beginning that we would not influence each other by discussing what we thought would happen next. We would just allow the other one to take the story forward another chapter, in whatever direction they felt it would go.
It worked incredibly. I would read it and think, ‘If I didn’t know who wrote what chapter, I wouldn’t be able to tell the writing apart.’ This was a difficult thing for me to admit, since I hated my writing and I loved Trish’s. Therefore, I was giving myself credit by making that statement.
We said we were going to finish it in a certain number of months. If memory serves, we had grandiose plans to complete it in three months. We whipped through the first few chapters, but what Trish didn’t know was that she was working with me. I have the attention span of a dead gnat. We got as far as 11 chapters and it fizzled out–because of me.
It wasn’t a lack of passion in the project that caused me to drop it. I just have all these plans. I take on too many balls and when I try to juggle them all at once it’s not one ball that falls—it’s ALL the balls.
Anyway, to make a long story short (too late), we decided recently to kill the blog. We took it down–all 11 chapters–and now it is no longer available to be read online.
BUT that is not to say that this is the end. I am currently writing chapter 12. We are still going to do this. Reading it has given us both a newfound passion in the project. Dare I say it? It’s good! I really like it. I NEED to find out what happens. The only way to do that is to keep writing every other chapter. Trish and I—both published authors now—have decided that we want to see it through. We might even try to get this story published, once we get to the end and do edits on it. I am confident that it’s a story worth reading. Well, at least the odd numbered chapters! She’s good. She’s REALLY good!
I don’t think we ever gave the work a title, so I can’t tell you what we’re calling it, but I thought I would drop in a few lines from the work here:
AN EXCERPT FROM CHAPTER ONE (Trish Stewart):
Rhonda used to hang her head out the window, lay back against the sill, sprawled across the seat with her legs across my lap and her back against Mickey, reclining across the front seat. She looked perfect like that. I followed the line of her from ankles, to hips, to her neck, curved and vulnerable. She peaked at the ivory white chin pointing skyward. I would rest my hand on her denim shin as I drove.
The last time she did it Mickey slid his hand across her belly; he was awed by seeing her that way – her midsection bared with the stretch of her body -and right in front of him for the touching.
She giggled. “Stop distracting me. I’m busy. I have to concentrate.”
“You’re looking at telephone poles,” I said. A question hung in my voice before it got doused in dashboard lights and extinguished by Robert Plant’s voice over the radio.
But she heard the unuttered question anyway. “I’m hanging wishes and memories on every one of them,” she said. “I’m decorating them like we always decorate the trees you bring.” She tugged her shirt back into place then wrapped her arms around her middle.
“I think I want go away for a while,” she said, after a long silence.
Mickey looked to me, and I to him and we both said, “Where?”
“Anywhere. Everywhere. I want to see the world.”
AN EXCERPT FROM CHAPTER TWO (Kevin Craig):
Waking up to our first Christmas without Rhonda was even harder than I had imagined it would be. With the bitter taste of our confrontation with Cal still burning a hole in my throat, I was in no mood to greet the morning without her.
As I sat up in bed, I remembered-and instantly regretted-the damage I had done to the rest of that bottle of whiskey after we left Roni’s graveside with our heads down and our tails between our legs.
We loved Roni like crazy. Bringing her a Christmas tree every year was just the tip of our Rhonda Eastwood obsession iceberg. Rhonda had come to define Mickey and me; form the people we had become. It was hard to be around such a free spirit as hers without having just a bit of that magic rub off on you, whether you wanted it to or not.
I should have gone with my gut when Roni voiced her desire to flee this shit-town, though. My gut told me I belonged in the small, in the forgotten, in the never going anywhere. But as I drove on, with Roni’s feet in my lap and her dreams in the air around us, something overtook my reason. Her desire to be anywhere, everywhere… it suddenly spoke to me. It bit me like a bear you can’t bite back but have to chase anyway, just to prove your courage.