So this is why we write novels
February 27, 2013
Caleb Pirtle III
I often wonder why I write. Then Toni Morrison gave me the reason.
She said, “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”
So I do.
I either had the good fortune or the misfortune of being on session of a Presbyterian Church during the middle of a bitter, knock-down-drag-out, no-holds-barred, back-stabbing, in-fighting controversy over whether a pastor should stay or go, whether there was any reason he should stay or go, or whether there was any way to forgive him for what he had done in the Name of the Lord.
We lost friends.
We lost respect.
We lost a preacher.
We lost each other.
We lost a reason for going to church.
I remember thinking, “If these are God’s people, then I think he should shuffle the deck and deal again.”
The turmoil inside me simmered and festered, and finally it became a novel. I presented it as a serial on Caleb and Linda Pirtle, Wicked Little Lies, then published it as a novel on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
This wasn’t the story I had lived through. But the characters were all there. Human nature can take good, honest, god-fearing people and turn them into verbal assassins. I’ll never forget the morning that my best friend and my attorney stood before the congregation and asked them to throw me out of the church.
I remember the summer we decided to vacation in New Mexico. I never booked reservations in those days. I just drove until I got to where I was going and looked for a place to stay after I rolled into town.
Santa Fe had a big bowling tournament. I didn’t know Santa Fe had a big bowling tournament. Everybody in the world who owned, borrowed, or stole a bowling ball was in town. There wasn’t a room at any hotel, big or small, either on silk stocking or skid row.
No trouble. I took the first road out of town and kept driving until I reached Los Alamos, which happened to be one of life’s most pleasant surprises. For the first time, I began to stumble across bits and pieces of information on the physicists, chemists, and scholars who retreated into the mountains and labs of Los Alamos to work in top secret and build the Atomic Bomb.
I was mesmerized.
I knew it had happened.
Now I had seen where it happened.
Over the years, I found quite a few nonfiction books on the Manhattan Project, and I ran across some nonfiction books on spies who smuggled our secrets to Russia. I’m sure there are novels that cover the project during a frightening time in our lives, but I didn’t find one.
So I wrote one. It appeared as a VG Serial, Conspiracy of Lies, and I am preparing to release it on the eRetailer sites.The story had intrigued me, fascinated me, haunted me, and finally beat me down. I had no other choice.
The more I think about it, the more I believe that Toni Morrison was right.
We have an idea. We sit around and wait for others to craft it. And when they don’t, we have to sit down and write the story, or we’ll burst. It keeps pounding inside our chest until we let it spill out onto the screen of a Kindle. It’s never quiet, and it never goes away, and it keeps pounding until we get it told.