I think I’ve found a place for Glady. It feels right; not rushed nor expanded too far beyond the facts. Yet it’s the proper place for a lady I never knew very well. I can finally tell a fictionalized story of a relationship that never happened. But could have.
Sharon’s frequent trips up to the Arts District in Northeast Minneapolis got me to thinking about my past ventures into that storied neighborhood and a mysterious woman who used to live there. While I never knew that woman on an intimate level, there was enough of a memory or image-banking that it kept me wondering ‘what ever happened to her?’ long after we both had moved on with our lives.
It was enough of a brain probe that I wrote a blog about her and talked to an old friend who also used to know her. Way back then, we were both fledgling writers at the Minnesota Department of Public Health in the early spring of 1968.
Harry and I go back more than fifty years, He is still one of my most favorite and frequent friends to meet up for my Coffee and Chat sessions. Even though long periods of little communication over the years, we’ve managed to stay in-touch. Harry was a good second image-banker for my recollection of that period in my life, the office setting and the various characters who worked there.
Back then, Harry was a recent graduate of the University of Minnesota and looking for his first job. I had just return from a self-imposed exile in Europe where I neither found myself nor any clarity in my future. We were both just starting out with our first job, first time exploring that tumultuous period called the 60s and learning to live with our boss, Marie Ford.
After writing that initial blog (Homage to Glady) and posting it on my Facebook page, I began to jot down some ideas for a story centered on two characters; a woman like Glady and one like myself. Harry’s recollections were invaluable in helping me paint an accurate honest picture of our lives at work back then. My love story centered on Glady was fiction. But it was based on real people and real events flavored with a liberal dose of creative artistic exuberance thrown to enhance the good story material.
The story was entitled ‘Glady’ and would be a love story between two opposing personalities. The mind-set, social, economic and sexual backgrounds of these two people was radically different. It was the classic case of two folks who had little in common but enough that they bonded on a level they hadn’t experienced before with anyone else.
Some friends of mine thought it would make a great play. I thought not. Others thought it might be a novel or screenplay. Again, I didn’t see ‘Glady’ in that fictional form. I didn’t feel like writing it out as a novel and I don’t do short stories. A novella might be the route to go, I thought. Then Amazon gave me the answer in one simple generic e-mail.
Months earlier as I was finishing up the self-publication of my twelfth novel entitled: ‘Playground for the Devil’, Amazon sent me a notice of a new publishing approach they were just beginning. It was called Vella and it turned out to be the answer for me to release ‘Glady’ to the world.
At that point, my lovely wife, Sharon, and Vida, my editor, decided that once again my enthusiasm had gone overboard and a little precaution was probably called for. Therefore, my main character would now be named Agnes and other real life characters would take on fictional names. Glady became Agnes, I remained myself and the rest of the world took on a fictional hue liberally laced throughout the storyline.
‘Agnes’ seemed to fit that approach perfectly. I felt I could tell her story in serialized chapter form with a tight story narrative. It would not be an elongated novel or play but rather a focused story of two lives intertwined and what happens to them after their mutual surprise that they have so much in common. It would be a love story for the ages.
Of course, it wasn’t as if I had nothing else to write about; far from it. ‘Agnes’ would be a detour through guilt and self-doubt. Self-criticism raised its ugly head when I thought about my other writing projects still waiting to be addressed.
I had just begun the arduous process of finding an illustrator for my new children’s book. I had an expanded version of ‘Polly’s Amorous Adventures’ which I wanted to publish in script form. ‘Playground for the Devil’ was crying out for attention and much-needed marketing. There were four other plays that needed to be revised, edited, rewritten, and then scheduled for beta readings. A new play ‘Frenchy’s Eats’ was still stuck in draft form. It wasn’t as if I didn’t have enough on my writing plate to keep me busy for a very long time.
Instead I was focusing on this fictional person (based on a real person) and the imagined love affair between the two of us. Unfortunately it parroted real life in that the mental and emotion forces that kept waking me up at night to run dialogue between Agnes and I pushed me to face the fact that the story had to come out or I was going to be distracted from everything else until it did.
The only saving grace was the fact that I didn’t have to publish it as a novel. Vida, my editor, could upload it to Vella for me. If it caught an audience, that would be great and a couple of bucks in my pocket. If it didn’t, the story would still have been told and I could move on to other things.