Why I Write Fiction: An Interrupted Journey – The 2018 Refresh
The Beginning: The Fourth of July Game
The Fourth of July Game is the story of how Suzan Frazier deals with being sexually abused by four friends- Phyllis Cherrington, Zach and Zee Abdner, and Rob Wilson – over the course of the Fourth of July weekend in 1992 (1998?). They kidnap Phyllis from a special graduate level summer institute in Forensic Methods that she is attending in Boston. They take her to a remote house on a lake in Maine, which they have modified for what they talk of as the “Game” among themselves.
During the weekend, Suzan discovers that she is fifth in a series of young women who have been subjected to the Game. One of the previous four resisted the four with violence and was killed.
After the weekend, she learns that her chances of achieving justice in the criminal law system are close to nil. She decides to seek the four out and kill them herself, using her marital arts skills. She believes that she is doing this partly as a way of achieving justice for herself, and partly as a way to bringing to an end their pattern of abusing young women like her.
The story shows how she gets ready to do this, how she finds the Four, and how she kills three of them. Success does not bring her a sense of justice however. She comes to see herself as a person who has planned the murder of three people, and been responsible for the indirect death of a fourth.
She has taken great care to avoid the US law enforcement as she carried out these acts. As a result, she has great difficulty reconciling her behavior with her sense of justice. This self confrontation is the beginning of her development into an adult who will eventually become a forensic psychologist.
The Fourth of July weekend is also her first exposure to adult sexuality.She had been adopted by her father’s brother and his wife when she was 1 year old.
Her father a Scottish mariner and the black sheep of his Scottish family. He left home in his teens, and eventually self-educated himself as a mariner. Eventually, he got master’s papers from a Scottish marine institute.
After that, her father made his living captaining small tramp freighters in the seas of Asia. Her father got involved with a Japanese woman on one of his layovers in Japan. Suzan’s birth mother was the rebellious daughter of a local Yakuza clan leader. Shortly after Suzan was born, both her mother and father were killed during a series of violent interactions between two rival Yakuza clans.
Suzan’s grandfather, the Yakuza clan leader, did not really want to take care of her. Suzan spent the first year of her life being cared for by one of the women of a Yakuza clan member who was childless.
Suzan’s uncle was a mining engineer who worked in Northern Ontario in Canada. He went to Japan and negotiated the “sale” of Suzan from her grandfather. As part of this deal, her grandfather arranged the brides that allow Suzan to be taken out of Japan.
Suzan upbringing was different. As a result, she did not go through the normal teenage socialization around relationships and social interaction with boys. So the sexual abuse she suffers on the weekend is her first experience of adult sexuality. The experience traumatizes her deeply. The book closes on the beginning of her healing process. Thi process will help her become a woman capable of deep sensual and sexual expression, with a socially unconventional set of relationship ethics.
The theme of the book is summarized in “Revenge is not justice, justice requires more than revenge.” Phyllis seeks justice, but discovers that she has taken revenge. She must work through what this means for her. While doing so, she discovers that a number of those close to her do consider what she did justice, in fact the only justice she could achieve under the circumstances. They aided her because they believed that. Uncovering this starts her on a path that eventually forms her adult sense of justice, which is much grayer than the black and law nature of justice that comes out of modern social criminal codes.
How I started work on The Fourth of July Game
I started this book as a way to discover who Suzan Frazier was. She is a major character in another book book that I have been outlining on off and on for two years (“Shepherd’s Revenge”). My executive work and and technical writing had always gotten in the way of me finishing any of these novels.
Why I Write
I have been writing and creating through words and images since I was sixteen. Much of my creating was and is professional or technical in nature,. I have probably written over a million words of technical content. Much of it never be published outside of the companies in which the material was written. I started to write business content publicly about 40 years ago.In fact, there is article of mine that was first published in the the late 1970’s floating around on the Web. Once you get behind my ‘writing name – Dirk Iver’, google me and you will find lots of examples of this writing on the web.
I write because it is one of activities that totally engages my capabilities.
- Photography is another.
- Facilitating groups (both personal growth groups and workproblem-solving / planning groups) is the third.
- Creating and delivering soft skill training programs in e-learning and face- to-face formats is the fourth.
Why I Started to Write Fiction
I started to write fiction for two reasons. I have some things that I want to say about the world I live in. I find my perspective on many things to be different from that of the people I encounter in my life. I want to say them in a way that gets people to consider them.
Saying them in fiction is a way of reaching a large number of people (I hope). That part of me is motivated by a sense of ethos inside me that says that adults have a responsibility to participate in the moral dialogue that makes up their community. My community lives as much on-line as it does in face to face contact with others. So I want to publish both electronically and in print.
The second reason that I am exploring writing fiction is that I want to make a money from it.I have made an good living as a consultant and an executive in the past. As part of a transition strategy for moving away from full time work, I started doing this fiction writing seriously at 60. My then wife objected strongly to my interest in “the morbid and violent things you are writing about …. ”.
My separation-divorce, and a subsequent failure to build a business, damaged my finances deeply.
Why I am Coming Back to Writing Fiction
Years later, I am no longer married. I find that I have huge amounts of creative energy. I am relatively healthy, and the family genetics are on my side. Folks tend to live into their nineties on both my parents’ sides. I intend to stay fully involved in my worlds – business, creative and technology – the rest of my life. I have never had a vision of retiring. Now I find that I cannot afford to do so. I am as intrigued by writing fiction now as I was years ago.
I hope that my fiction and professional writing can help me earn my living as I live out the next years of my life.
How I Write – but “In the long run, the process you use to write counts less than the results you produce”.
I start with a sense of plot – a story. It always has a main character or two in it. Hob Hoberly and Suzan Frazier have been living in my consciousness for many, many years. I usually write an initial treatment – the story in no more than 3 pages to see if the story is worth pushing further. If I am still excited by it at the end of this, then I know there is a good chance there is something into which I could put more energy. I let the treatment sit for a while. Some of them never come back alive.
I then create fairly reasonable outline based of the treatments which still energizes me. Sometimes, I start with a character map instead. I need to have a sense of who is who and how they relate in order to work out the details of the story outline. I can go either way.
Then I try to write the a hook scene – the first few pages of the book. The hook scene describes what appears to be a crime. Then one of my main characters, either Hob as a private investigator or Suzan, as a forensic psychologist, gets an assignment that is related in some way to the hook scene. Since Suzan and Hob are a ’couple’, they get involved in each others’ assignments.
This process works for me. By now, I have read enough other writers’ writing on writing fiction that I know that the process you use to write fiction is personal.
In the long run, the process you use to write counts less than the results you produce. (See I am quite willing to quote myself.)
Starting the Fourth of July Game
I originally started thinking about the Fourth of July Game in this way. I outlined it. When I first did so, I set it in places that I was interested in at the time – Japan – the northern island of Hokkaido and California. Then I started to write it. I wrote about 125 pages of it in three weeks that I took out from my normal scheduled in November of one year. Then I went to a weekend writing program with Barbara Kyle (https://www.barbarakyle.com/ ) in Toronto, and got a lot of feedback on this first incomplete manuscript. After that, I took Kathy Page’s online writing course (http://www.kathypage.info/) and got more.
(Thanks Barbara and Kathy. I learned from you both.)
Because of a number of events, including the financial ones, that occurred after my marriage breakup, I did not keep at this fiction writing. Now, mid summer 2018, I am coming back to it..
I do not know how my writing will play out over the next months. In the best of all possible worlds, I will:
- Start to write The Fourth of July Game again, this time setting it in Ontario, and New England, which I know and have lived in.
- Write about 25 pages – 5500 words – a week, in evenings and on weekends, to between 450 and 500 pages(between 120,000 and 150,00o words). so I am looking at about 24 to 26 weeks, for a first draft.
- Redraft it by the end of the year, or early in the new year.
- Find one or more readers who will comment on the work as it progresses during each of the rewrites. If you are interested, click on the Contact Dirk page to send me a note. Let’s e-mail dialogue about what might work for both of us.
- Research the best way to publish this material in the new world of publishing – self publishing, Amazon whatever.
- Outline the next novel while doing this. I find working on more than 1 fiction work at a time increases my overall productivity.
I know that I cannot work on fiction full time. I need income on a month to month basis and so will have to put some energy into my consulting work.
I have found that only writing fiction by itself does not work for me.I write best with fiction n writing is one of the activities in which I am actively involved in.
A New Interest
Since my separation, I found that I have a new interest in reading erotica, and and once again exploring human sexuality. In my 20’s, I took advanced courses in human sexuality, and even ended up teaching one for a term.
With my marriage, I tuned my involvement in it down, since my partner was concerned about it. Sex was one of the things which was not talked about in her family.
Once I was separated, my willingness to put energy into this revived. I now occasionally write erotic short stories and poems.
Why Dirk Iver?
I am still actively writing business material and creating / delivering soft skill training programs. I want to keep a degree of separation between my fiction writing and my professional writing.
The people in my business world have different values. Not all of their values and moral outlooks will align with those that underlie my fiction and pervade my erotic writings. So writing as Dirk Iver gives the ability keep a distance from my professional work world.
Dirk is my middle name. Iver is a name I choose because if a book store ever stocks my books, the books will be shelved about half way along their shelves, if the books are shelved alphabetically. There is some research that shows that people pay more attention to unknown authors who placed in this location on the book store shelves.
Finally, I just like the sound of the name. I hope you do too.
Most of my research is done online. At one time, I was a book fanatic and had a library of 6000 books or so. But these are gone. Although I miss the pleasure of owning books, I find there is very little information that I need for my writing that I cannot find on the Internet.
Because of my work background as an former senior level IT leader, I am very comfortable with computers and the Web. The Internet is an indispensable research tool. I also still love books, and use them as research tools. But more often then not, I am working with electronic version these days.
I have explored a number of software tools for writers over the years. They include:
- Dramatica Pro
I keep coming back to Scrivener, and will focus on it for the next months as my writing platform.
As well as Microsoft Office, I use:
- WPS Office https://www.wps.com/),
- Inspiration (http://www.inspiration.com/),
- Scabble (https://www.literatureandlatte.com/scapple/overview)
- ,Adobe Creative Suite (InDesign, Photoshop, Lightroom, and Premiere Pro – https://www.adobe.com/products/cs6.html),
- Filemaker Advanced Pro (https://www.filemaker.com/products/filemaker-pro-advanced/),
- Dragon Naturally Speaking (computerized dictation software),
as part of my creative and writing process.