The Story of Writing Windsweeping
For years the concept of men and their ability to learn how to love has been a topic of interest for me. I believe I came to a conclusion early in my life that men inherently are not born with all of the skills necessary to effectively love other people. Oh, they may have aspirations of great love or they may possess elements of love with which they augment their infatuations, but the lasting sustaining kind of love that nourishes human existence needs to be taught to men if they are ever going to maintain and grow a relationship of mutual benefit. Now, I’m not so married to the idea of men’s loving deficiencies that I could not be persuaded otherwise and of course I realize there are definite exceptions to my premise, but I have been fascinated by the effects of men’s inability to express love to the point that I knew that if I ever wrote a novel, a central theme would pivot around a woman teaching a man all the dimensions of love necessary to his survival.
In December of 2007, I wrote the first chapter of the book and formulated an overall concept for how I wanted the story to develop. The word ‘Windsweeping’ had been a part of my lexicon since 1992 when I, like David Jarvis, bought a Corvette right off the showroom floor and drove it throughout the Pacific Northwest perfecting the windsweeping concept and reveling in the experience. Though the book’s first pages have gone through some alteration since that time, its purpose and presentation have remained largely unchanged. That chapter then sat untouched for more than a year. In April, KoreAnn and I took a job together in northern Nevada. The demands and intensity of our positions made it impossible for me to write, causing the story and its ideas to languish in neglect. KoreAnn often encouraged me to pick up the story so that I could finish telling her about Kathryn and David, but her pleas remained unheeded and I found I was never in a frame of mind to craft the words or develop the stories lines for the characters.
After more than a year, we realized our job was coming to an end and while sitting at dinner one night at the CalNev Lodge in Lake Tahoe, we attempted to discuss our future. After several aborted conversations we found ourselves starring across the lake and then, as if struck by the same exact thought, we looked at one other and decided to take off windsweeping together to finish the book. We loaded our possessions into a couple of storage units and took with us only sufficient clothing and necessities to sustain our windsweeping writing adventure. We headed towards Colorado to leave our cat, Spock with friends and then drove to Utah to visit family and to definitely commit to the crazy notion we had begun to incubate. Without telling anyone of our plans and not knowing for certain ourselves, and thus in the true spirit of Windsweeping, we snuck off in the direction of Las Vegas to begin our adventure.
On the weekend of July 4th, we escaped the heat of the valley and spent the holiday at the Mt.Charleston Lodge. It was there that I dusted off the first chapter and began in earnest to write Windsweeping.
The lodge was quaint and the rooms were small which caused me to learn how to locate electrical outlets in very strange places so I could move my battery deficient laptop to areas throughout the property which took advantage of the cool air and the magnificent views. For the next seven weeks our lives completely focused on writing and windsweeping. KoreAnn acted as our travel agent, designated Garmin and chef. With her wireless laptop in the car, she would arrange and make reservations for the hotels we would stay at and then provide directions for finding them. A change of scenery was always welcome when the storyline began to bog down and often we would up and check out of a place, load up the Infiniti and be on our way to nowhere in particular with the sun on our faces and anticipation surging through our senses. Our travels took us to some fascinating locations. We spent a week in Laughlin, Nevada and then a week or two in Bullhead City, Arizona, perched in a suite overlooking the Colorado River.
Often, to break up the monotony of writing we would slip into our swimming suits and head for the pool. It was simply too hot to be outside without being in the water. At times the temperature rose to over 120 degrees. We traveled again to Colorado and I finally fulfilled a lifelong dream of visiting the four corners monument. We wandered back to Utah and even stayed two nights in Beatty, Nevada where we explored Death Valley and many of the ghost towns left behind when entire populations abandoned the gold mines. No matter where we wandered, we always managed to return the Tuscany Hotel in Las Vegas. It’s a fabulous park like setting, built on an Italian theme and located just off the strip. It easily became our retreat from traveling and it was there that we met Lorraine. She checked us in and out of that hotel so many times that summer that we decided to adopt her. But, it was her grace and charm that caused me to ask her permission to use her name as a central character in the book.
In the acknowledgement section of the book I gave KoreAnn some grief for her bathrobe and lack of makeup while editing, but I have to admit my own appearance while writing was often not any better. When the story line seemed to flow, I had no desire to make myself presentable. Fortunately, KoreAnn discovered the world of Twitter and I was left alone in my world of writing. When plots and dialog did not seem to come alive as I hoped, I took walks around the hotel grounds. It was so unbearably hot in Las Vegas that writer’s block never seemed to last and usually within minutes, I was back in the room or seated at the covered, mist cooled patio with my head down writing once more. Each night I would read to KoreAnn what I had written and fill her in on the story as it had evolved in my head. She was always so receptive and full of praise and adoration. I had no idea she would soon become the ‘editing ogre’.
Towards the end of August, the initial writing of the book came to an end. It was sad because I had grown to really like the charters I was writing about and even though in the beginning I could make them do whatever I wanted, they seemed to have lives of their own as their characters developed. When the book stopped, I had to say goodbye to them. It was just as well, however. After reading the first draft of the book, I realized that they all needed some serious attention. After KoreAnn read it, she insisted it required major surgery. Now, the real writing fun was about to begin. For the next several months while still windsweeping, we cut, diminished, threw out and discarded thousands of words which either added no value to the story or confused specific intentions. Not all of those words went quietly. Each one required a formal discussion which as time went on, quickly devolved into a battle of opinions ranging from “you are just writing for yourself” to “you have no idea what I am even talking about.” For the most part, the ‘bathrobe queen’ I was married to, was correct and I forced myself to say goodbye to some of my favorite words which readily dispersed to much happier locations once they were freed from my control. But like all authors, I confess I never really missed them once they were ordered to leave. As it turns out they weren’t all that necessary to the story, the book, or our marriage. Rewriting was fun too. Often walked up and down the strip watching the people or enjoying the water at the Bellagio or the volcano at the Mirage and when we returned to the Tuscany I was ready to create again. Las Vegas was a perfect base camp for us and the city life there only added to our enchantment.
As the editing process began to come to its conclusion, we windswept a few times to California to meet with Keith, who painted the cover for the book. Not ever having to be anywhere at any particular time seared the whole windsweeping concept of the book into our minds and imbued us with a sense of appreciation for the opportunity we were given to write this novel. In the end, my thoughts about men learning to love were born out through this adventure. My heart learned things my mind only knew in its shadows and when the curtains were finally opened upon all my thoughts, I realized I had been taught both the lessons and the language of love and felt the kisses reigning down upon my soul as if they had always been present in one eternal round.