As the author of a first time historical novel, I was responsible for establishing The Orphan Building Research Team’s research goals and objectives. I did this by scheduling time alone, for planning the bi-weekly follow-up research questions we needed to answer. Then, it was important to coordinate our team research sessions. In-between these sessions, we planned field trips to various research sites and scheduled multiple interviews with individuals who grew up on the West Side of Buffalo, New York.
Time became a priority and a balancing act for all of us. When we were researching together, time evaporated right before our eyes. We would look up from our pile of research books and it would almost be time to leave and live our separate lives. Time was special and we knew that Fred was afraid that his story wouldn’t be told before evidence of his existence was gone.
I began the creative process slowly, yet gingerly, because the novel had to be truth-based first and foremost. Fred’s apartment building had to be described as accurately as possible from the time he was built in 1900 until a hundred and fifteen years later. It took time to read and reread our research using my hand written notes, while my characters waited on the sidelines to emerge on the page. Eventually, I also wrote the entire book in longhand, over and over, chapter by chapter.
After letting my pages marinate while I worked on a new chapter, I would go back, revise and rewrite the previous one again, hoping the three major fingers on my right hand would survive until the project typist could type the entire novel. Each chapter was revised again at least two or more additional times.
Time was both a friend and a challenge. Time is a perfect writer’s companion.