Monday, May 31, 2010

Excerpt from The Trees in Winter

Excerpt from "The Trees in Winter" by D.E. Sievers, Available Now on Amazon

The bass throbbed, the drums thundered, the keys trilled, the guitar snarled, and the brass howled and honked like rush hour traffic pleading for the mercy to bring it all home, which they did in a rip roaring finale that nearly brought the sweat-soaked crowd to its knees. At that moment, Blake knew with a certainty that such a performance issued not from any romantic notions of inspiration drawn from a lover or musical exemplar, despite any such claims, but from the native talent, formal training, dedication, passion and synergy that each musician brought to bear when they came together on a stage and bled their hearts into the beckoning silence. Leaving the stage, he and his peers had never felt more spent—nor more alive.
       It was nearly two when Blake arrived home, to a setting whose tranquility couldn’t have contrasted more sharply with the one he had just left. The dark rooms were as still and peaceful as a cloistered sanctuary, infused solely with the hushed breath of Providence. Setting down his gear, he went directly to Miles’ room only to find an empty bed. His stomach dropped a peg as he felt his way out of the room and switched on the hall light, crossing over into the other bedroom where he found his son nested snugly in his mother’s embrace, a heartwarming tableau bathed in the soft light stolen in from the hall.
       Blake bent over and kissed his son on the cheek, scooped him up with loving tenderness and carried him to his bed. Returning to his own bed, he eased into the pool of warmth Miles had left and fit his contours flush against those of his wife, savoring the hot touch of flesh against flesh.
       “How’d it go?” she murmured.
       “Awesome,” he said into the room’s heavy blanket of serenity, while inside him music surged from the thousand sparks of a sizzling fuse.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Birth of a Fiction

After 80 chapters, 436 pages, and 200,000 words of a novel that took on a life of its own and took over mine, I'm so ready to write something new. I've had a few different projects all lined up for me to dive into, but an entirely new idea caught my fancy over the past couple of weeks and so that is the one I've chosen to pursue. I see it as a small book, 100 pages, maybe more, maybe less, the story itself will decide. It's sort of a parable about the journey through life told using the metaphor of a climb. It will be called The Climb. I'm only a few pages in, but far enough to be well engaged and excited about it. Now I need only surrender myself to it and let it take me where it will for as long a time as it requires.

Completing the novel has given me my legs, as it were. After so epic an undertaking, anything of shorter scope seems a walk in the park. I learned a great deal about writing throughout that 3-year process, but perhaps the most important lesson was in coming to understand the absolute necessity of giving any writing enterprise its own daily sacred space. And by space, I mean time. Every single day I fed the novel its 3-hour ration of time. It hungrily gobbled up every precious minute and sometimes rewarded me with pages filled with words. Other times, only a single paragraph, or a single sentence. And occasionally, a single word. But at a certain point (and I'm not really certain when that point occurred), the story took on its own life and began rolling forward like a snowball, enlarging itself of its own accord. The words practically wrote themselves. The characters I'd created took on a quality like the machines in the Terminator movies--they became self-aware. Or maybe my own awareness of them had grown so complete, my own knowledge of who they were and what they thought and what they would be likely to do had so ripened as to require of me only that I sit with pen in hand for three hours and allow the strange magic of creation to occur. That, I now understand, is all I need do with any project I undertake. Feed it the time, and it will reward me with the words.

I met the author Michael Chabon at a reading one night and asked him if he had any advice for the aspiring novelist. "Stay in the chair," he said. I was sort of hoping for something a little more practical, a little more specific and detailed, and walked away disappointed. I now know that his advice was just as practical and specific and detailed as it needed to be. It's just that simple. Stay in the chair. Feed it the time. With nobody else around--no TV, no Internet, no people, no potential distractions whatsoever. Just you and your thoughts and your pen. Or your computer, if you must, but ideally without internet access. Some would disagree, and argue that the internet is essential for research related to the writing. I would argue no. During a first draft, while engaged in the act of pure creation--writing fiction, mind you--making things up--mining the imagination--no research tools are necessary. Do the research later. Leave blanks to be filled in. Feed your project the time, be rewarded with the words, then watch your story snowball into something bigger than yourself. Stay in the chair.

That is what I will do with The Climb. In so doing, I know I will produce a finished story. Don't know when, don't know exactly what it will look like in the end, don't know how long it will be, how many words, how many pages, how many chapters--but I know it will be a complete story. And that will be good enough for me.

Signing off from the heartland,

D.E. Sievers

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Who Might Like My Novel?

It's inevitable for a novelist, sooner or later, to ponder the identity--or rather, the psychological makeup--of his ideal reader. Or put another way, what sort of a person might like his novel. Here, then, is my stab at this question.

If you like literary fiction, or that which presumes itself to be literary fiction. If you are undaunted by longish novels and have a yen for words and language used in creative ways to tell a story. If you like stories which aim to be realistic and are about ordinary people living ordinary lives very much like your own but deep down (or not so deep down) resent the suggestion that your life is ordinary. If you like stories that explore love and death and family and work and sex and art and music and literature. If you like watching a character develop over time and seeing how all the external influences and other people the character cares about most act upon him and change him. If you like to witness from afar how characters deal with crises such as death and disease and domestic disturbances and turmoil. If you like stories that explore the nature of love, both familial and romantic and that between friends. If you are interested in a novel that explores the nature of male sexuality as embodied by an admittedly limited number of male specimens. If you like to see characters making weighty decisions and then like to watch the consequences of those decisions as they play out and the ways in which the characters cope with those consequences. If you like a novel that does not insult your intelligence by leading you along by the nose and spoon-feeding you explicit explanations of the obvious. If you are of a philosophical turn of mind and enjoy pondering the meaning of life and what it is to be human. If you like a novel that treats of universal themes and concerns in which you can discern your own life experience in a way that provokes personal insights and inspiration. If you are interested in the nature of passion, in a variety of forms, and in the inexplicable mystery of the creative impulse. If you appreciate a novel that is not afraid to be speculative, that dares to postulate events in the real world which have not happened but conceivably could, and by so postulating throw a brighter (and perhaps harsher) light upon the burdens and challenges the novel's main characters are made to confront, thereby also providing insight into why the characters respond as they do. If you are interested in any or all of the above, then you might like my novel. If you are not interested in any of the above, you will almost certainly dislike it.

And that's all I'm going to say about that.

Signing off from the heartland,

D.E. Sievers

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Novel & Blog Debut

Now that my debut novel has been written and is available for purchase, naturally I want the world to know. A blog seemed in order to help in getting the word out, and to provide a space for me to air my thoughts on fiction, and to share my fiction into the bargain with those who might appreciate it.

My novel is called The Trees in Winter and is available for purchase at:

The ordering process can be rather annoying, but if you persist in creating an account if asked to do so and re-entering information as necessary, you will triumph in the end and I think you will enjoy my novel. If ordering before June 1, get 25% off by entering discount code R77RYGC9.

This is an Amazon company and a trustworthy online vendor.

The book will be available on Amazon proper and other venues in the weeks ahead but of course I would prefer everyone purchase it on the site provided here, since otherwise my royalty is miniscule. I hope you'll take a chance on my novel. You can read a description of it at the site listed above. And of course, I will be blogging about it here as well.

But for now, I will conclude my maiden blog entry and look forward to continuing in the days and weeks ahead as opportunity allows.

Signing off from the heartland -- D.E. Sievers