Discovering My Writing Life



Sept 1983

At age 50 I have discovered that I should have been a researcher and I am so lucky that I wasn’t. I would have gotten lost in some library or vault and would never have written anything. Now the thing I found out this week is that writing is so much FUN.

When I tried to write before, the thinking part was fun but the putting down on paper was not. Now that part is fun, too. I tend to agonize a bit but then that is my nature, isn’t it?

Now I just had the nicest bit of good luck with EAB. I decided to have Wendell and Amelia come from New Hampshire and don’t ask why because I don’t know. Maybe I liked the way the name sounds or something. So then I decided where approximately in the state the town of Wellman would be.

I got really serious about where it would be and I had a problem. The town–courthouse, newspaper and graveyard–had to disappear; I pondered over several ways this could happen. For a town to be large enough to have a newspaper it has to be about 5,000 population and to have a town that size disappear, is hard.

I first thought of having it swallowed up by a larger city which has happened to Mesa and Tempe, Arizona by Phoenix. But then New Hampshire isn’t Phoenix and there hasn’t been that much growth, for God s sake, in the whole state of New Hampshire.

I began looking at my several maps and what do you know? In the last 20 years or so they built a reservoir right smack dab where I wanted Wellman. Several little towns that had been from 100-200 population 20 years ago are zip today. So there I had it. I had an explosive truck blow up and demolish the courthouse and newspaper so the records couldn’t be moved. I had it happen in war time so it would be too hard to re-build and then the war would have drawn a lot of people out of town. Also I had the state condemn the land for the reservoir and since there are two rivers running into the area, it probably flooded out and the people were glad to sell and get out.

Wellman is under the Franklin Falls Reservoir. You go north on US4 out of Concord, turn off on US3 at Webster and go to Tilton, then turn left on County 3A for 6 miles and there you are.

Something like that makes writing really fun. I think it also gives me the ending to The Zephyr Girl. So many times one thing just dovetails into another that you become hooked.

I have reached a point in life where just getting the thing written is more important than great prose and after reading so many books; I am highly suspicious of great prose. Great when? I go back and read some of the books that were supposed to be so great and I can’t find the greatness. There are moments, true, but greatness? Hardly. So what the hell, ‘Just let ‘er rip’, I say. 


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