All a-sea and a-gog!

Notes from Alexis: “The Disappearance of EAB” her first book, is in progress. She shows us how she thinks through the characters and story line.

8-9-83

Dearest Lex,

In case you didn’t recognize it, this is a telephone call. B. called me Friday or Saturday in a snit and a tizzy, it seems we packed up and took a weed vase from your show that belonged to J.K., so to calm her I said I would phone you, so this is your phone call.
So how are you?

I’m still breaking out and now I am taking a steely-eyed look at boysenberries and blackberries. About the time I broke out, I started getting boysenberry jam; remember the blackberries at your house. They are the same critter actually, and as I look back there has hardly been a day when I haven’t had some, of one or the other. So I shall go berry-less for a while and see, and this includes raspberries! Although I’m not letting that thought actually enter into the program–just a cautionary note–for I will not allow a raspberry allergy, any more than I would allow a coffee allergy.

Now I did a spur-of-the-moment thing that turned out to be fun and a great impetus for Disappearance of EAB. (Her first book) I sat here with my coffee one morning and wrote that Anna had found a box with some jewelry and pictures and letters, and all of a sudden I yearned for such a box. So I got dressed and went hunting.

I went to Salvation Army, animal shelter, Bishop’s Attic, and two antique places. I got some old looking jewelry and a treasure trove of pictures and as it turned out, some gems of books, although the books were not for the box.

Then I bought a “record book” at Payless for the Diary. I had hoped for an old-looking record book but am not upset with the new one. I actually wrote the Diary in the record book. I hadn’t done this before. Then I decided to write letters and put them in envelopes, sealed them, then I opened them as if they had come in the mail. All of the sudden EAB became a fact for me.

Strange how the whole process works for me. The pictures I found were almost scary in the way they fitted my needs. The people at the antique store had bought the estate of an old man; he was in his nineties when he died. The pictures were from his estate and many of them were from the 1920’s and 1930’s. Since they were from his family I was able to get several of each person. They even looked somewhat like my vision of my characters. Amazing! I am all agog!

So now I have the EAB box (all except the painting) and I can sit and play with the contents, and it seems to me I go right into the book when I do.

I also rearranged my ‘fact book’ on EAB and took a hard look at my story line, and then it all just sort of fell into place for me and I sat down and wrote the ending.

All I have to write now is the middle. I love sentences like that. It is as if we try to use magic to accomplish our ends.

Now here is a funny thought. In all the times I have written stories before, I have always felt a trifle odd as if I were trespassing or doing something I shouldn’t (a peculiar wrong place, wrong time feeling) but now I feel quite natural and at home. For instance–in the past when someone asked me (or I imagined someone asking me) what I wrote, I was all a-sea, and suddenly tongue tied and speechless. Now I can simply say I write mysteries.

Would I have despaired at nineteen when I yearned so to write; if I had known it would be thirty years before I could sit down and actually do it? I think so, I think so.

I used to always love thinking, of a book, but I hated the writing part. Now I enjoy the writing part. I like the way one thought sparks another. The other day I thought, “Oh my God, what if I don’t know how to write a book” and then I thought, “I’ll teach myself how.” So simple when you “Option” it out; of course I may have to write a hundred books before I get the hang of it.

Weaving and Spinning lessons are going ahead, as I have to use both sides of my brain, don’t I. I mentioned to Dad that I would have to quit weaving and spinning, as I can’t stand the headaches, so he has now had his warning. At some point in time I will divest myself of all the weaving and spinning paraphernalia.

That thought some time back was too much. Now it just seems right and proper, and of no great importance. One day it will all happen. I knew in January that I was going out of business, but I couldn’t bear to think of it. Now in August I am in the writing biz and haven’t the time to mourn. I suppose that is the way to work it. But we both know I had to have something to fill the void. Fortunately I did.

Am looking forward to a nice long visit in a couple of weeks; I really hate these rush-rush jobs. When we have to talk every minute of the time to get it all said, is just too hard on us. I think we are basically lazy.

I forgot to mention that on the day of the ‘treasure box hunt’ I was walking down by old phone office. I was deep, deep in thought about my mission, when I looked up and saw a black man coming towards me. He was about my age, clean and handsome. I looked down and saw he was carrying things like the bums do, and he said “Hello, pretty lady.” I looked up, and we both laughed. Now how did he know he could get away with such a thing? People say the most outrageous things to me.

So far in this letter I have been all a-sea and all a-gog, so you can tell that this is a most exciting letter. One of the things I like about you is that I don’t have to mark the places to laugh. I am still laughing about your joke; about my not knowing which language to read the clock instructions in.

Will close for now,

All Our Love,
Mom

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