History of my novel, Friday 10:03 (Part 14)

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Milestone: This evening, I will have the last meeting of the last class in my four-year study program for the Master of Fine Arts Degree in Creative Writing (Fiction), at California State University, Fresno. I still have one very big test to take (probably in July), and my thesis to complete. The thesis is a rewrite of the first eight chapters (about 120 pages) of Friday 10:03. The class that finishes tonight has studied The Modern Memoir. Each student will read a portion of memoir they have written, and I will read from this very blog, History of my novel. So with today’s entry, I am multitasking.

This series begins here.

In the picture, the skinny guy with a full head of hair is me, on the day I left for Europe, almost thirty-six years ago. The beautiful girl is Vicki. In my backpack, I carried the opening chapters of my novel, which I fully expected to revise and add to, while I hunkered down in Paris and turned my five years of classroom French into something useful. 

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However, my flight took me only as far as Luton, thirty miles north of London. I hiked those thirty miles and checked into a bed and breakfast. Then, since I now had an address, it made sense to write to Vicki and my parents, let them know I’d reached England safely, and then stick around long enough to hear back from them. I guessed that might take about ten or twelve days. I spent a couple of those days poking around London, and then decided I probably had time for a round trip to Ireland. I joined the Youth Hostel Association, rode the Tube to the end of the line, and stuck out my thumb. I spent a couple of days at Stratford-on-Avon, took in a Shakespeare play, and then caught a ride all the way into central Wales.

My ride let me out with the instructions to walk to a bridge that crossed a gorge, and that on the other side I would find a Youth Hostel. Unfortunately, the walk was a great deal farther than she described it, and I found myself in pitch dark and the middle of someone’s pasture. I rolled out my sleeping bag, but spent a fitful night, afraid that I was trespassing on someone’s property.

However, at sunrise, I discovered the closest dwelling had long-since been abandoned. My over-night nest had actually been quite a safe place. My map indicated that I was still a several-hour hike from the closest paved road, so I began to walk, nibbling wild blackberries and enjoying the beauty of the morning.

In fact, the rapid change from the uncalled-for anxiety of the dark hours to the pleasant discoveries of the morning, caused this agnostic to first ponder the existence of God, and then to lean in favor of that fact, and finally to praise the God-Who-Might-Be-There.

Within a couple of minutes, I came upon a small cluster of houses. A well-dressed, middle-aged woman came out of one of them and asked me where I was headed.

“Aberystwyth,” I replied, naming the major city along the central Welsh coastline.

“Then come in and sit. I’m goin’ to Aberystwyth in half an hour, and I’ll give you a lift.”

And she did, though first she gave me a cup of tea.

At this point in the story, I can’t divulge how this fits as a link in why it’s taken me almost forty years to finish writing my novel, but it does. I’ll pick up the story next time.


I know the novel Friday 10:03 has been part of your life for so very long, but this story of your trip to Europe is the one I first think of as "the story Dad tells." It served as my bed time story for a time and "the story Dad tells on long trips to pass the time." Thanks for telling it again.

slowlane said...
May 14, 2008 at 7:27 PM  

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