Entertaining Welsey Shaw—The Blog

Nearly two years ago I first had this idea I suddenly wanted to explore: take a world-famous person, an actress in this case, who’s always in the spotlight.  Cross her with a very ordinary guy, a little-known author, who will never taste real fame.  Who is freer?  Who is happier?  And can these two people, from the opposite ends of the earth, one raised under the spotlights in New York City and the other from a small town about two hours away called Callicoon, population 216 as of the 2000 census, ever truly be friends?  Is friendship even possible between the really rich and spoiled and famous and the ordinary person, even if the two of them might have clicked easily had their circumstances prior to their meeting been more equal?

That’s the thought I wanted to examine and settle in my own mind with Entertaining Welsey Shaw.  I immediately started writing what I thought would be a simple novella, with a deliberately minimalistic plot.  Nearly two years later, it’s expanded in scope, taken on new themes (that I’m not quite sure I know how to handle satisfactorily), and is still not done!

Right now I’m about 70 percent through the second draft.  This second rendering was a major rewrite from the first.  Most of the time I didn’t even reread the original.  In some cases this was because–I admit it–it was too embarrassing.  Ideas that get incorporated more organically in later drafts tend to be spoken outright in the first, as the author is still getting to know the characters and their motivations.  So rather than get depressed at my first efforts, I just remembered what I’d intended for a section and rewrote it fresh–with very few exceptions.  (One scene made it in nearly verbatim, and I still think it’s one of the best in the book.)  Often I prefer rewriting nearly from scratch.  Revising, Isaac Asimov once commented, is a lot like chewing used gum.  (I’ll take his word for it; I don’t chew gum.)

I decided to start a blog for two reasons: obviously self-publicity is one.  But another is that just as the novel was and is a way for me to work out certain issues about friendship, fame, intimacy, class and status, the blog is a way for me to work out creative issues with writing the novel.  (Gee, if I have creative issues with the blog, what do I write to work those out?)  So here I’ll think out loud, explain myself, use you readers (at least, I hope I get some readers) as sounding boards, and so on.  I may also talk about peripheral issues, sources of inspiration, and honestly, just about any damn thing I please, because it’s my sandbox.  And I’ll probably put some chapters up eventually to give y’all a taste.

Please comment, if you have something intelligent to say.  I enjoy intelligent comments.

3 responses

  1. Leslie

    John – I for one think this sounds fascinating and fabulous and I cannot wait for you to be done with it so that I can read it. Please keep us up-to-date and let us know how you’re doing.


    October 8, 2009 at 11:56 pm

  2. Charles

    So here is a question: why is your lead character female?


    October 9, 2009 at 7:43 pm

    • There are two main characters, but this is told from the POV of the male character, about the female character.


      October 9, 2009 at 7:54 pm

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