For almost three years, I’ve been working on a novel that I’ve titled Julius. It started with the NANOWRIMO (National Novel Writing Month ) challenge to complete a 50,000 word draft in one month. After I completed the task, I saw that the silly and spoofy story I had imagined had become something much more substantial. Now, two and one-half years after the fact, I’m still researching, rewriting and revising. It’s an endless process.
How did the story begin and what is it today? For starters, it all had to with Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, a car drive through the town of Ossining and my father’s comment about prison towns and the electric chair.
How did the novel change? Here’s an example of one sentence I wrote in the very first draft:
Too bad it’s not 1936, we could have run off to Spain with the Abraham Lincoln Battalion, fight the fascists along with Alvah Bessie and George Orwell and feel like we accomplished something worthwhile.
What was a passing mention of Alvah Bessie, the Abraham Lincoln Brigades, and the Spanish Civil War became a quest to know everything about the war, Bessie and ALBA (Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archive), and the CPUSA, and with that, the research became an all-consuming obsession.
When do you stop researching and start writing? For me, they go hand-in-hand. I may find something and discover it might be a good fit–so in it goes. Does it make the final cut? Maybe, maybe not. Research,like revisions, can be an endless task. If you’re like me, a notorious procrastinator, they can be impediments to writing and finishing your novel.
And on that note, it’s time to do some writing. . . .