2013-09-25 / Irregular Regulars

Observations from the F.A.R.M. (Fresh Air & Room to Move)

Tennessee with Saint
By Karen Pease

Well, it looks like it might actually —finally!— happen. In October, if all goes as planned, I’ll hop aboard a Delta jetliner and fly to Tennessee, where I will finally meet “Bee Dazzle’s” co-author —that bossy, know-it-all curmudgeon, Eugene Saint.

The reason for the anticipated trip is two-fold. Saint and I have also co-authored a full-length Tag novel, titled “Following Seas.” The novel is almost complete. Almost. The old man has been holding up the works but I try not to crab about it. At his age I suppose I should be grateful that he can still muster up the strength to toddle from recliner to computer desk.

We wrote the original manuscript three years ago with several other authors who were participating in an online game of Writers’ Tag. The site folded but Saint and I stayed in contact. Our posts had proven we had some synergy. Since each author on the site retained ownership of his or her own contributions, Saint and I deleted the posts written by the others and then read what remained. To our delight, what remained had the makings of a terrific novel.

We decided to rework the plot to make it truly “ours.” At night —after our families had gone to bed— Saint and I wrote. Sometimes we’d talk on the phone when Saint needed to complain about something such as my overuse of commas, ellipses…or italics. He’d gripe and I’d defend. He’d grumble some more and I’d concede. He’d crow in victory…and I’d get irritated. It’s part and parcel of the experience of writing with Saint.

Eventually the manuscript began to resemble a completed novel. My nerves, in the meanwhile, began to resemble a frayed rope. One thing about Saint? The man is never wrong. Ever. It’s useless to offer even the mildest criticism of anything he’s written because before the end of the conversation I’ve somehow turned into that lowest-of-the-low: a “girl.”

Don’t get me wrong. Saint’s not “macho” nor is he a misogynist —but he IS a survivor. When backed into a corner he comes out swinging. And if he lacks an original or worthy argument, he falls back on his old standby: the argument that I “don’t get it” because I’m a “girl.” I have to admire his use of that accusation because —to his way of thinking— there’s little to be said against that argument. And because he knows I get cranked when he says that, he uses it every chance he gets. If it wasn’t for the fact that I have great respect for senior citizens in their dotage, he and I would have engaged in more than the occasional tussle.

But now we’re almost finished with this undertaking.

If we can polish “Following Seas” to a point where we’re ready to sit down together and give it a word-byword edit, I’ll fly down to Tennessee and we’ll do exactly that: Finish the book, design and create a cover and synopsis, write the dedications and acknowledgements…and be done with the project. That’s the main purpose for the trip.

The other reason I hope to go to Tennessee is quite simple. I’m curious. Incredibly so! I’ve written parts and pieces of several novels with this man who is —in essence— a stranger. I want to see and know the “real” Saint. The guy who is a husband and the father of eight, a musician, artist, veteran, teacher, sailor, writer… and more —or so he claims! I want to find out if he’s really an irascible old goat… or just a grumpy old fart. I want to know if he’s as smart as he sounds… or if he’s just good at sounding smart.

I mean, think about it! The only details I know about this author are those he’s allowed me to know. A few photos and a voice on the other end of the phone line are the extent of my knowledge. In reality, he might not be an irascible old goat! He might be a young woman with a deep voice (a smoker perhaps?) who has been sending me photos of her grandfather. He could be a vagrant. A politician. An oral hygienist. The possibilities are endless. Heck, he might even be a Republican!

The fact of the matter is that I want to know. As a woman who always picks up strays on the side of the road, it was natural that Saint would become one of my closest friends. I want to see him with my own eyes.

I suppose it’s only fair that Saint sees the real “me” too. I just hope he’ll be able to come up with a suitable defense strategy when he finds out I’m not a “girl.”

Karen, whose column has garnered a number of awards, welcomes your comments and/or questions.

Email her at roomtomove@tds.net. Visit her Web site www.karenbesseypease.com or her blog, Grumbles and Grins, http://karenbesseypease.blogspot.com.

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