Resident Contributions

"Sheltering the Creative Spirit"

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Taos, New Mexico USA

 

 

                                                   

                                                   "WIDOW ZEBACH"     

 

    Off Interstate 20
    she whirls her hoe
    the acreage now
    a bedroom wall
    and a six-foot
    stand of weeds
    Husband dead
    (a farming mishap)
    both sons dead
    ("Nam"  Korea)
    the house lost to a
    lightning fire in
    '68 and she
    whirls her hoe
    It lifts and disappears
    lifts
    disappears
    in the sun
    in the moon
    The relatives pass
    at 70 yelling
    GIVE IT UP
    BEATRICE
    The weeds keep working
    at that one
    charred wall
    remaining                  

 

Charles Behlen (first resident)  

 

FWF Residency Report October 2002

by

Jim Ciletti

 

Project:  My novel Leaves of Glass is a story of a young man in search of himself.  Determined to find God, he enters a Jesuit novitiate.

Outer World of the story.  While the outer world of the novel is based on the four years I spent in a Jesuit novitiate, my memory after forty years had slipped.  Fortunately, my friend and fellow ex-Jesuit John Palenchar had sent me one hundred letters he wrote to his family on a weekly basis for two years of our novitiate.  I was able to research and make a complete outline of the two year time line of the novel.  Anchored in this time line are significant experiences of the hero.  John’s letters had enough details about our daily activities to enable me to properly sequence the outer world of the character, which supports the inner journey.

                        Inner World of the hero.  This was the most difficult challenge.  I knew my own story and my own growth curve during the two years of novitiate.  But I was not writing my story.  I was using my knowledge and experience and that of several other ex-Jesuits to create a composite character.  I wanted to create fiction, a novel, a universal “hero” story, not a biography.

                        How lucky, or serendipitous, was my trip to the Taos library. I had forgotten my copy of Volger’s book The Writer’s Journey, which describes the twelve steps a “hero” experiences on the hero’s journey. The Taos library had one, and right there a few books away was Pearson’s book The Hero Within on archetypes, which I had also forgotten.  Bingo!  The research into the archetypes of the Innocent, Orphan, Martyr, Wanderer, Warrior, and Magician made clear to me the plot arc of growth my character had to experience.  This research opened the door to the boiler plate of the novel, the character’s inner journey.  With the inner journey of the character so clear in my mind, I was able to take up the writing of the story.  I developed a good fifty pages, the first three chapters, before I had to return home.

Other Work:  My daily routine involved starting with a walk in the morning, journal writing, and then working on the novel.  By 1:00 p.m. my well was running dry.  After a lunch break I either made town trips to the library or worked on poems or other stories that needed polishing before I could submit them.

                        I submitted a number of poems to magazines and sent out two stories.  This was very productive work for me because I usually have to go to my bookstore and do “business” stuff in the afternoon.  To have time to research and submit work was a pleasure that nurtured me and gave me time to get away form the novel, yet I could stay in the writing state.  This was a real bonus for me.  And already the magazine Venus Envy out of Taos will be publishing “When a Poem Wears Muddy Shoes,” which I re-wrote and shortened while at the cabin.

                        I participated in one poetry reading at Doc Martin’s, and enjoyed another, the Dead Poets Night at Caffe Tazza.

Summary:  Both the outer and inner world of the story are solidly outlined.  I have developed a preliminary outline of the hero’s inner journey.  The first three chapters are complete in first draft, the next three chapters are outlined, and I am well on my way to being able to write again.  If all goes well, the first draft will be complete by spring.

(Jim Ciletti, poet, writer, and instructor, owns the bookstore Hooked on Books in Colorado Springs with his wife, Mary.)  

 

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