The Great Novelist: Part II

Unbeknownst to anyone, whenever someone on Earth creates a fictional world, that world suddenly appears in space somewhere.You are a young novelist working on the sequel to your best seller. You wake up one night to find the main character of that novel standing at the foot of your bed.

Read Part I here and continue reading tomorrow for the final installment of “The Great Novelist”.

A shuddering cold slips down my spine as though someone slid an ice cube down my shirt collar. Watching Sara and Johnny has created an uncomfortable feeling in me. Probably because I know what they are destined for.

Johnny is distraught and Sara is inconsolable, and honestly, I feel as though my heart is paper torn. I struggle to watch them as her scarlet dress whips around her in the dying sunlight.

I hear her whisper, “Perhaps this time could be different, non?” Johnny’s face is blank. I am certain he is thinking about the bullet, nonetheless, he takes her into his embrace. I can see the tears that stain her cheeks in the setting sun.

The lovers murmur to themselves, Sara fidgeting with her dandelion ring.

It feels intimate.

Private.

Like a last goodbye.

As I stroll farther up the sands, I see an elderly woman shrouded in a veil. Even before she turns to acknowledge me, I know her eyes will be milky. She has dealt with her lack of vision since she was twelve. Noëlle Skye – she is beyond time, yet her greatest dreams will never be realized.

She wants to be a ballet dancer, but even when she was young and heard the cues, even when she watched her instructor’s every footfall (before her sight was robbed from her), Noëlle could not manage the steps without fumbling.

She is old now.

She does not turn at my footsteps, though her expression freezes as she hears me approach. She is one of my earliest characters. I wrote a short story about Noëlle when I was twenty-three. Four years later, I developed it and sold it to a literary journal. Noëlle lifts her gaze toward me. “Please tell me something,” she asks, her voice lilting, “why do you make us all so sad? Is it that you are sad?” Her eyes are gentle and curious, though I know she is not capable of seeing me.

“I have forgotten my grandchild’s name,” she admits, her voice broken with defeat. “My hands are arthritic, so I cannot lace my ballerina slippers, even if I wanted to. I do not see the point much longer.”

“Noëlle,” My voice is soft. I am hesitant. “Why am I here? Is it to face my crimes and be hanged like a common criminal?”

She laughs. “You are not to be punished. We all understand there is a little bit of you in each of us. You give most of us the broken bits like a chipped tea set, but some, you give your joy.” Noëlle glances farther up the beach as though she can see him, a young boy dragging a stick in the sand.

“Go,” she urges me, “I’m sure you recognize him.”


Of course I recognize him, but that does not make the approach any easier. These fictional characters I’ve crafted – even the happiest ones like David-Michel – are imbued with some sense of lingering sadness.

David-Michel is clinging to a red balloon, and his face is lit up in a broad grin. It is his seventh birthday. He went to the zoo and saw a white Siberian tiger. His mother has baked him shortbread cookies, and he is eating his favorite supper tonight.

I remember writing David-Michel. Life is very, very good for him for many years until his suite mate shoots himself in the face with a gun. He is distraught, as one would expect, and withdraws from university. He falls into the bottle as a means of coping, but at this exact moment, he is a happy seven-year-old boy, watching the waves.

He does not see me. It is probably for the best.

This is beginning to feel like one of those books where the Angel of Death shows you the reaches of your life, but these are fictional characters, and I don’t feel like I’m going to wake up soon.

The silence is harrowing. Finally, I ask, “Why am I here? Do I hold the cosmic pen that can rewrite fate?”

I rummage around in my pockets, seeking some answer to this riddle but only find candy wrappers and cigarette lighters. As I search, I form my pointer finger and thumb into a pincher and squeeze my thigh.

Lo and behold, I feel it. I am no ghost nor am I dreaming, though everything feels unreal in a way.

I inhale deeply. Sara and Johnny are observing each other as though for the first time in centuries, showing one another various scars and cuts. Surely Johnny is telling Sara about the bullet. I watch her eyes widen as he splays her fingers onto the site where the shrapnel entered. She might scream or fall into hysterics, but right now, I hear nothing but muffled sounds and a tinny ringing in my ear. The hopeful part of my brain thinks it’s an alarm, and like Ebeneezer, I can go back to the world reformed.

But I know that’s not it at all. I’m here to bear witness.

Best Sellers of 2021

I have been a passionate writer for years now; it’s only recently that I’ve begun to delve into the world of getting my works published. I know it’s easy for people to point out trends and show what’s forecasting to be popular in 2022. I know it’s easy for people to point to statistics and say, “This is what everyone is reading these days.”

But I don’t want my books to be for mass consumption. I don’t want my books to be plastered with stickers like an “As seen on TV” toaster. I’m not saying I want my writing to be obscure or unknown, but I am not writing for a mass market. I want people to read my writing because it resonates with some deep part of their soul.

Today, I received a series of messages from a fellow poet. She lives in South Africa, but she admitted to me she saw parts of herself in my poetry. Another author from Chile told me that parts of her were reflected in a poem I just finished. That’s what is important to me. I don’t care if I’m on a best seller list or if no one buys my books – I want my words to reverberate truth to those who read them. I want my writing to be something that stirs in the hearts and souls of those who read it.

Last night, I received a letter from my son, telling me that I’m a good artist, and to be honest, after growing frustrated with the numbers and the followers and the algorithms, it was nice to be reminded why I do this.

I write so that others may find their voice among the fray. I write so others don’t feel lost or lonely. I write to be someone’s candle when all their lives they thought themselves blind.

In 2022, I hope to write more, publish more of my writing, and continue to spark awareness in others. I pierce my own veins so that poetry uncoils from the skin, and the reader sees me as a mirror. So that the reader knows they are not alone.

Ps: Don’t forget to check my blog over the next couple of days for the three installments of “The Great Novelist”.

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I read somewhere, when I first started writing, that if you can produce one good sentence a day, you can consider yourself a success as a writer. Lately, I have been struggling with writing either poetry or fiction, and though I haven’t been depressed, I haven’t felt the urge to write anything in weeks. At first, I chalked it up to grief, and while I adamantly don’t want this to become a diary, I do feel it’s important to give my readers an update on my writing.

In the past few days, I have been working on my ghost-writing project; I am ahead of schedule with that, which is great, but I haven’t written much on my other projects like the letters I want to write for Jackie Bluu or other anthologies. Hopefully, soon, that will jump-start again, and I will begin writing more for my chapbook and anthologies I am interested in submitting to.

I recently did a poll in my Facebook group about what kind of content people would be interested in seeing. Turns out, it’s a close competition between more poetry and an option added by an old friend of mine: a moment of inspiration from my life. The moment of inspiration from my life actually came in first place, so I will be thinking on that the next couple of days.

In the meantime, here are my couple of good sentences for the day:

The bundle weighed a couple of ounces under eight pounds; it was light, yet fragile like fine crystal, wrapped in a pink blanket. When the woman opened it, she immediately said it was too pretty and couldn’t belong to her.

– Isabelle Palerma

This is for a new novel concept (utilizing the homonym “novel” here) I am toying with. If you’d like, feel free to let me know what you think.