When I start writing a new novel, I never know how it’s going to end. I trust that the impetus to move forward, usually a feeling that is difficult to articulate, will be enough to I get the journey started. Although I am going out not knowing exactly where I’m supposed to go, I am not going blind. I have well-developed character profiles and life circumstances in which to put them that will stimulate the kind of conflict that makes for a good narrative.
In the process, I discover what the themes are that I am working with. This may seem counter-intuitive, but I often don’t know what I’m writing about until I start writing. The writing process is always one of discovery. And this purposeful not-knowing gives writing an energy and serendipity that is remarkably generative. I feel like I am not just the creator, but the created, changing through the writing process as much as my characters change.
It is exciting to know that for the next 14-18 months I will sit alone with these characters and wrestle with issues, dilemmas, and conundrums that are important to me, and, I hope, to the reader. The beginning phase is expansive as the characters develop and their options are wide. Somewhere past the midway mark, though, those options narrow, as it becomes clear that there are some things the characters would do and some they would not. In a sense, the characters exert as much influence over the story as I do. The end of the story comes to me first as something intuitive, a feeling, a sense that I am on the final leg of the journey even though I may not yet have words for what it will be. Often it is in the last fifty pages that the end will take form and words will coalesce into final scenes, paragraphs, and sentences.
Of course, that is not the end. Editing before publication may go on another year or more. The drafts get shorter, tighter and more to the point.
In terms of my writing routine, I don’t write every day, which is to say I don’t sit in front of my computer every day. But when I am working on a novel, I feel like I am always writing; that something is at work in my mind even when I am not trying to put it down in words. I often edit as I go, reworking sentences, paragraphs, scene choreography, even characters. I like to have a well-crafted chapter before I go on to the next, even though the whole thing may change later. I have an office downstairs where I am surrounded by books and quiet. In the summer, though, I prefer to write on our screened-in porch.
I rarely have writer’s block. I think this is because I have accepted that I not only don’t know, but I don’t have to know where I am going in order to write productively.
“I don’t know how, and I don’t know why, but I think I died today.”
So begins the complex and mysterious journey of Gavin Goode and his family. What happened to Gavin and why? What secrets will emerge along the way? Frankie, his wife and a dress store owner, feels guilty, but why? His son, Ryan, who owns an ice cream parlor, and daughter-in-law, Jenna, who is a bank manager, are expecting their first baby. How will this trauma affect them? And what of Rosemary, Frankie’s best friend? Or Ben Hillman and eleven year old, Christopher? How are they implicated in the events that unfold around Gavin’s misfortune?
This is a story of despair and hope, dreams and reality, uncertainty and faith, humor, secrecy, forgiveness and beginnings. As in his previous novels, David B. Seaburn demonstrates his in-depth understanding of the human experience and his storytelling mastery.
In 2010 I retired after having been the director of a public school based free family counseling center.
Prior to that, I was an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Family Medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center for almost twenty years. During my tenure there I taught in a Family Medicine Residency Program, practiced Medical Family Therapy and was the Director of a Family Therapy Training Program.
In addition to this, I am a retired Presbyterian minister, having graduated from seminary (Boston University) in 1975. I served a church full-time from 1975-1981 before entering the mental health field permanently. I am married; we have two adult daughters and two wonderful granddaughters.
My educational background includes two master’s degrees and a Ph.D. Most of my career was as an assistant professor of psychiatry and family medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center. There I wrote two professional books and over 65 papers and book chapters.
In addition to long fiction, I write personal essays, many of which have been published in the Psychotherapy Networker magazine.
I also write a blog, “Going Out Not Knowing,” for Psychology Today magazine (http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/going-out-not-knowing).
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