HOW TO WRITE A NOVEL USING A WEST VIRGINIA 'YOU FILL UP MY SENSES' COLLEGE ROMANCE FROM LONG AGO!
BRAD WAS MY FIRST & ONLY TRUE LOVE!
BRAD WAS DESTINED TO BE SOMETHING IN POLITICS WHEN HE MET ME!
The first thing you do is think of a romance you had that was memorable. For me, when I wrote my first romance novel called “Where the Woods Were”, I needed to use my first college love Brad. Although I was coming back to college as a senior in my last semester, he was coming in as a first semester Freshman, but we got very close, very fast. I fell madly in love with him.
It was 1982. I was in my last few months of being at the cute post hippie private college in West Virginia. I decided to keep a journal of the romance, and I am glad I did. When I finally started to write more professionally, I used my last semester with my first love as a basis for the my first novel.
The most important thing you have to start writing your novel in pen, the first 3 chapters. You have to try and write it in fast notes fashion like I was taught by a real writer I worked for when I left college and came out to California to try and make it in the entertainment business. Writing it first in pen on blank paper (not lined paper) stapled 15 sheets each is a great start, so make about 5 sets.
The first thing you do is pretend you are writing either “him” a letter, or writing a letter to someone who likes to get letters from you -- your parents, a sister, a best friend, or an old English teacher you had in junior high. That worked well for me. Before I even typed a word, I took the first 15 stapled pages, put it in front of me and wrote: Dear Mrs. Greenberg (my favorite 6th grade teacher who always said I’d do something in the writing field).
The next step is to establish a freestyle type of writing. It's called Stream of Consciousness, and if you want your brain to remember more details of the story, it's better to write it in fast notes fashion, very easy for me to do, because I have practiced it during down times at call center jobs, at home, when I can’t sleep or when I felt a need to “just do it!” I started writing it like I was writing to someone who cared. Honestly, I just winged it and kept on going. I started out with a few leafs of crisp, white paper, reminding me of a plane taking flight into a thick, veiled cloud. And that's how I started this story.
PART I -- ALLEGHENY LOVE STORY "HE FILLED UP MY SENSES", I LEFT HIM FOR CALIFORNIA!
Salem College in West Virginia -- nestled in the Allegheny Mountains where folk singer John Denver sang about his own love for the land and his wife Annie. Every time I heard Denver's songs, it would bring me right back to ‘My First Love’ during my last semester at the post hippie Salem College, 15 miles from the nearest hairdresser!
Each semester had its own moments, memories and men to ponder on. Although the last semester at the unassuming, quaint college that boasted all sorts of degrees in odd categories like Equestrian Studies, Outdoor Science and Heritage Arts, turned out to be magical to me.
With my naturally curly hair and perky, energetic personality, by the time I was a last semester senior, I was well known on campus. The friendly, open woman with the floppy hat. And so very aware that my time at the college was coming to an end and soon I'd be heading out to the State of Dreams - California!
Lots of students knew where I was headed, some thinking I may have been just a bit crazy coming back to Salem after spending 15 week semesters at UCLA and USC during the summer breaks. And my encounters with the well known actor David Carradine (Kung Fu/Kill Bill) sounded all made up, so they said after I left the college.
I noticed in my last semester, the majority of the guys I had dated were usually transfers from other colleges, didn’t go to the college at all, but rather lived either outside the small town or worked near the school itself. Sometimes I'd even meet and start dating a “Townie” (people that lived in town all their lives), which meant an off campus relationship.
Then one day, out of the blue, when I least expected it, I met Brad Boyers, an incoming Freshman. We immediately gravitate toward each other. I noticed him in journalism class, and he appeared for the radio station DJ meeting like me, as well as to the meeting to work on the school paper.
It wasn’t until a week had passed, when I was coming out of my dorm room on the 5th floor of Hoffiemer Hall and began walking down the corridor to the elevator. Brad was walking toward me. I noticed him right away. He was not bad looking and seemed to have a halo of mischief surrounding his 18 year old body. He wore glasses, but I could see the twinkle in his eyes when he recognized me.
He wore a straw fedora hat with a fake “press card” tucked in it. His clothes were pressed and matched to perfection, even though he wore Levi’s and a La Costa shirt. He had longer hair that his head could hold, it was long, framing his naturally jovial looking face. Dark green eyes peeped out at me, smiling through naturally looking glasses. I felt like a a beam of love light was shooting at me the moment our eyes met.
His sexy, deep voice was perfect for the radio, or an announcer on a show, or someone who gave some pretty great speeches. He gave me goose bumps when one day when he called out to me in the hallway of my dorm, even with all the chattering and noise all around us. "Well, hello again," he said gallantly, slightly bowing and tipping his hat to me. I matched him and his mood, because I knew he liked me, and I really liked him after seeing him 3 times in 6 hours. Were we destined? Short time will tell.
Brad seemed to walk right into my life as he stopped to chat. "I know you!” His sexy voice caught me in a soft fluffy cloud as we passed each other in the middle of the hallway. He was with his new friend Ridge, who could have been in Neil Young’s band, if he played an instrument or sang, which he did not. Just a good ol’ boy from the next town. He was staying at the college and lived on Brad’s floor across the street from my dorm.
The guys lived on what was once called “The Sixth Floor Burnouts” floor when I'd first started at Salem 3 years prior, my very first semester, which felt like eons ago when Brad walked into my life there. I remember spending my first few semesters walking around up on the 6th floor of the men's dorm and meeting many types of guys, as well as the ones that I dated, one at a time, room by room.
At the time I met Bard, it didn’t matter much to me. I wasn't thinking of my reputation built on 3 years of hanging around guys. And the ones I did date had already left the school. So it was a new generation up there now, mostly Freshman and a few of the old timers I partied with.
I did have, at one time, a huge crush on a guy named Edwin Knight, who became like a papa to all of us who hung out there and those that lived there. But the semester Brad showed up, Edwin had already moved off campus to live with a gal he'd been dating named Irene, and I had already dated a string of fast romances after him.
It was when I was sitting in my room playing guitar. I had just finished painting Egyptian symbols and characters on the walls of my room when Brad passed my door again (probably on purpose) and again stopped to chat with me. “Hey you,” he said in that breathy beautiful voice I grew to love along with the rest of him.
"It’s you again, come in," I said calmly, trying not to let him see I was a bit nervous. "I'm just sitting around playing my guitar and singing a new tune I wrote on the plane coming back here!"
“Mind if I come in to listen,” Brad asked sweetly.
“Sure, I just put some finishing touches on it,” I said. Why did I all of a sudden feel a little shy with him?
That only happened when I was starting to like someone. Usually I was able to chat and laugh with just about anyone and everyone. My mind flashed back to my first semester again. I had a motorcycle and spotted the Dean of Students standing around on the street and started conversing with him until he seemed agitated over hearing that I was riding my motorcycle around the college illegally and generally causing a light ruckus a' la' the movie “Animal House”.
I remembered when I felt like the guy in the movie that drives his Harley ‘Hog’ into the girl’s dorm and down the hallway, riding full throttle from one end to another and back again.
Although just a silly movie, my good pal at the time, a troublemaker named Mike Murphy (who also owned a motorcycle), dared me to do the stunt, and of course I obliged. That was my first semester at the school, which seemed ages ago as I watched Brad's expression as he sat on my bed, soon to become our "love couch". I sang my song about California to him and I could tell he liked it, and he liked me too.
A few other students passing by and stopped to listen. “Wow, you’ve gotten much better over the summer,” said one girl, a short perky hippie looking woman named Karin, who also played electric bass guitar.
“Thanks Karin, I had a lot of practice with this when I was at UCLA!”
“You're so lucky to go to both USC and UCLA,” said Karin, sitting on the bed and listening. “Who is this?” She asked, seeming to just notice Brad sitting there too.
“I guess he's my...." I hesitated for a split second. "... new ‘friend’ Brad,” I said sheepishly to Karin, feeling my cheeks turning shades of red.
At that moment she stared at the new Freshman more closely. Brad smiled back with his eyes, making her slightly swoon from what I could observe. Yes, Brad did that to me.
“Brad, this is Karin, she actually lives in my old room by the other end of the corridor, near the elevator, and she plays electric bass too,” I said, as I strummed my acoustic guitar I'd gotten more familiar with during my second California summer, staying up in Laurel Canyon with an art therapist and her daughter.
As I strummed and sang, Brad looked around the dorm room. I followed his eyes as they carefully surveyed the room and then stopped when he noticed my double beds. It was very creative, fun looking dorm room. It was the way I placed the beds now that I lived alone. All seniors got that luxury.
Brad immediately liked my style. I'd painted Egyptian symbols and more on the walls. The room was very cozy, warm and inviting. Incense burned musk in a silver holder, and the smell of it floated around the room and into the hallway. Candles were burned down to the core, but more candles were added to make a virtual sea of candle light flickering. It was really a cool room.
I had been attending Salem College for 3 years, but had also gone to the big universities out West - USC and UCLA for 2 consecutive summers, which cut out a whole year of college all together for me. I think Brad wondered how I'd pulled that trick off, and why I would even have bothered to come back to Salem College after attending two huge universities out West. I'm sure he realized that I had my reasons. At that time, my family had a lot of money, which allowed me to achieve that.
At that time, my family could afford to send me to any school I choose. My father had passed away a few years before and had left quite a bit of cash for us. He’d also put in a lawyer in place, some young hot shot who was sharp and eager to start his business right. He was minding my family's money store.
From my experience after my father died, it seemed almost too easier to go to Mr. Trustee’s office and tick off a list I'd struggled over, rewrote and crossed out, so I could make it out West two summers in a row. I got what I prayed for, he did say "yes". He knew what I wanted and why.
The previous summer I wanted to go to USC and had managed to talk him into sending me by cutting corners on the money needed to get there. I did 15 weeks there and then returned to the little school in West Virginia. The first summer in California was amazing, even if I only took 2 classes - Ancient History & Journalism news writing.
What made USC seem harder than my school in West Virginia was the fact that the professor in my Ancient History class ‘wrote’ the wordy textbook the class was using, so he was not taking any bull from anyone that summer. His name was Professor Nagle, at least that is what it said on the shiny dust cover under a photo of the Great Pyramids on the text book.
The other class I'd taken that summer was a once a week 3 hour intensive Journalism class taught by a producer at NBC named Mr. Noyes. It was so boring because Noyes loved the sound of his own ‘voice’ bouncing off the walls of the prestigious university. It also seemed that all the other students (except me) were hanging on his every word, or pretending to. The guy smelled like a internship ready to happen, and it could have been anyone in there (except me).
Most times he droned on and on about his experiences and when it got too boring, a cute black and white dog sitting by a female student flirting with him in front would all of a sudden get up and run around really fast in a circle until the rest of the class would smile and chuckle. Although Professor Noyes had his favorite students, I was not one of them. I could sometimes feel my eyes getting heavy and sleepy. It was strange how 3 hours could stretch out and seem like 5 hours, maybe more, depending on what he was lecturing about and how many others he let speak, which was too often that summer.
It wasn’t until I returned to Salem College and was watching NBC news on my trusty black and white TV set that received 2 snowy channels due to the mountain ranges, when I watched the credits roll and spotted my boring, droning professor’s name in the news credits. He was a “Managing News Editor”, not a producer as he had told us in class.
Now I was nestled back into my big fish little pond college, just where I wanted to be. Our lawyer told me if I went back to California that I might as well stay there, because I should be going to UCLA full time. But that was not to be. I could have been there instead of back at Salem College, but the place I was staying at was a friend of my mom’s best friend’s postman, who was more friendly than any mail carrier I'd ever met.
The postman found me a place for the summer at $350 a month and I was staying 3 months. I had the first $350 and the Trustee was supposed to send the second and final monies in one check. But he never sent any checks. I was embarrassed and nervous that he'd never sent them, so it was a great excuse to say that it was too late to move into the dorms for the Fall session. I said I'd missed the cutoff date for the room and board at the University.
I'm not that sure why he didn't send the last $700. The dorms would have been much more, so I tried to cut costs and find cheaper digs, and even bypassed asking for a car. He just didn't send me anything to make it easier for me to make a solid decision to stay there.
That was so like him. It was as if Mr. Trustee did it on purpose. Thinking back to it now, I believe he was thinking in his crafty mind to make extra monies by contacting someone he knew out in CA to secure him some sort of a deal on it, maybe taking out a college loan, and therefore not touching the Trust monies left by my father. That must have led to his path of pocketing the extra cash he would have sent me.
But I wasn't playing that game. I stalled the lady I was staying with and went straight to my mother's pal that had helped me secure the place through her postman. The producer lady lived down the street from my digs. I spoke to her calmly about the situation. She ended up, as I had first surmised, giving me the money out of her own wallet and was flaming mad at our lawyer for being a creepy, slim ball.
Why didn't he send the rest of the money?" She asked, while counting out 700 dollars like a deck of cards. No biggie for her, she was producing lots of movies in South Africa, and was getting lots of royalties from her past acting gigs, tv shows, movies and plays.
I think I know why he wasn't sending the money! Just to get out here with no trouble, I may have told him in all my excitement, that it was only $350 for the whole summer, so of course he agreed to that. I figured I'd be able to weasel it out of him in a month's time. I wasn't worried until I realized he wasn't going to send the money and must have been on to me. But I didn't mention that to the woman.
What a creep. And he was more than that. I found out that he and my mother were having sex late at night. She'd sneak over there in my brother's unassuming car and they'd roll around for a few hours, then she'd drive home and tell us all about it in great detail. They had a fake bond. That was how my mother rolled.
Where I was staying was exactly what I had wanted and imagined. It was in a cool house in the Hollywood Hills near Mullholland, on a little street called Briar Summit, right next door to Sixties actress Edie Adams, across from Paul Michael Glaser's abode (Starsky & Hutch cop show from the 1970's) and the actor who played the father in the long running tv series The Waltons, Ralph Waite, which had just ended that fall, so I spotted him a few times that summer.
So being a stone’s throw away from a woman who was my mother’s best friend, a producer and actress with her hubby, also an actor paid off for me. It was so exciting in the beginning when people recognized them when they took me to dinner or for a night on the town.
They became instant Godparents to me, the young college girl. They saw I was smart, could speak well and play guitar by ear. She really thought I was adorable and even gave the me many outfits she wore in the many movies the actress had done in South Africa and The Philippines.
Yes, the first sign of trouble for me was when the family lawyer didn't send the second payment to the lady who was letting me stay in her home, which was a bargain considering where the house was, who lived around the area, and that she was doing it as a favor for the postman, who was very popular in that neighborhood.
You actually could find Eddie the Posman having dinner over Mary Wilson’s house (one of Diana Ross’ Supreme's), as well as at my mom's friend's home. He was a very interesting postman and the whole neighborhood loved him and gave him gifts, money and conversational gossip.
After she called our lawyer demanding the next months rent, there was ‘no love lost’ between them. She was angry at him for delaying the monies to had laid out, bullshitting her, and then never sending it, not even giving a reason. He swore to us that the next payment was on its way.
"You know what? I think your lawyer is a liar," she said angrily.
"I know, and I think he's doing it on purpose as a power trip or something.. But he still never sent so it, so my mom's pal stepped up like an angel and paid it for me. I told the couple that our Trustee pulled that on me many times when I was at my regular college in West Virginia.
"It might be because he knows I found you a place and I have money," she said to me. "What a jerk. He's saving money by having me pay, what a rat fink," she said in frustration.
"He's a controlling bastard," I said easily. And he was.
Besides me, I have two older brothers and a younger sister. Each of us had something very unique and different about us. My oldest brother was very interested in news and stories. My other brother started collecting replica gun models and had a slight liking for graphic design at an early age, as well as accumulating many African statues from our time living next door to the United Nations.
I had a deep, strong love for Art and American Indians. I played guitar by ear and my younger sister loved to dress up and play hostess and had a most beautiful face. She was also good at cooking in the kitchen, and was the favored child of all of us. So many of my mother's friends were always caught sneaking up to see her in the crib and usually left the baby little gifts then sneaked away.
I know that this article is about a love story, but I have to brief the reader on the background of the character(s) first. What I am doing is trying to go back before I met my first love at that little college.
By the way this is all true. All the events really happened. It was around 1981/82. But eventually I have to start to fold the story back to the Brad and I. It can get bulky, especially if there is a lot of background information that pertains to the this.
Then again, I’m the writer and it’s up to me to decide when to start the romance part up again. I was always told to 'not rush it'. Take the time to explain things. 1st person is like reading out of diary and is quite effective. It gives the readers better insight to all the character’s feelings, thoughts and emotions.
It’s one thing to be able to write, but good writers can also “OVERWRITE”. It’s okay to do it this way first, then go back and shave a lot of it off so you get to the cream of the story about first love.
I’ve decided to stop here and just say that as writers we have to keep going, then edit later. There are frame’s of reference you need to write down, but they need to be put in shorter, less wordy paragraphs and not so much jumping around from moment to moment. Many paragraphs should be switched to the beginning and others need to be taken out all together. Yet some paragraphs just need a little work adjusting them.
When someone is speaking, you must give them their own paragraph, even if they say nothing but “YES”… You must do it like this: "I laid on my bed loving the feeling of being back at Salem College where I felt like a big fish in a small pond due to my new clothes, new outlook and a ripe life experience brewing.
The clothes and jewelry I now wore labeled her a true ‘California Girl’ worthy of wearing the attire, including a fedora felt hat with all types of funny buttons on it. My favorite was “Don’t Fuck with My Reality” which was pinned right in front of the hat.
People at Salem noticed how I had changed and didn’t look too shabby. I was tanned, skinny and happy to tell people what the inside of David Carradine’s house looked like, how his wife at the time invited me to hang out with her while David was away making a film.
In a strange way, David Carradine, although I hadn't met him in the two summers I went out to California, yet he was technically my real first love. And I'd never let anyone at Salem forget it. No one really minded but one girl who was my sister in a sorority I joined after I'd grown away from The Sixth Floor Burnouts turf. The girl always made fun of me and said right to my face, “You will never meet David Carradine.”
“Oh I will one day,” I said. “I know it’s my destiny!”
“And like he is just waiting for your call? Don’t you think he has better things to do than hang around answering your call?” She seemed a bit crabby about the whole thing with me and David Carradine. She found me to be immature and told many that I had my head in the clouds. She could not believe I would come back to the dinky and insignificant Salem College in West Virginia.
Why didn’t I see that? I had an opportunity to really do something with my writing and here I was back at Salem after spending 15 weeks summer sessions at USC and UCLA.
“You sound a little jealous of her,” said her boyfriend Keith.
The girl sat up from his bed after some heavy petting. “Hey, why’d you say that for? I’m not jealous! I know if it was me, and I had that opportunity, I’d never come back to this place!”
“Well, you ain’t her,so just chill out."
“It just bothers me so much that she’d want to even come back?”
“Hey,” interjected Keith. “You could have gone to WVU anytime you wanted”
“Whose side are you on anyway?”
“Nobody's side,” countered Keith. “I just think you should live your life, and let Miss California girl live hers," he said wisely.
"Yeah, guess you are right honey," she answered back.
"We don’t need no more drama. Remember that one girl last semester who you thought was after me?”
“How could I forget,” she said, rolling her eyes.
“Well, just concentrate on your life, not some crazy girl who has the dough to fly all over the country. You know what some people think of her…”
“Yes, I do, but she’s just a bit mixed up, and so hyper. It drives me crazy sometimes,” she admitted.
“Ahhh, don’t sweat it,” said Keith, coaxing his girlfriend back to him. He wanted to have sex before lunch. “Come here ya’ little flower!”
Meanwhile, back at the girl’s dorm, I had just come up the elevator and was walking to my room. Brad was on the floor visiting with Ridge's girlfriend down the hall from my room. As I passed that room, Brad noticed me and came out to chat. “Hey, here we are again! HA HA, if we ever date, we should play out this little scene in the hallway every month we are together,” said Brad easily.
I felt my cheeks redden. “Silly.”
“Maybe not so silly,” said Brad staring at her and pointing to her reddened cheeks.
“OK, stop messing with me!” I reached my room and unlocked it. “Want to come in and sit down again?"
“Sure, if you don’t have to study or anything,” joked Brad. It was obvious both were liking each other. Others noticed, and Ridge just quietly walked back to his own girlfriend’s room.
“Where’s Brad?” Asked Sharon, when Ridge walked in alone.
“He’s hanging out down the hall!”
Sharon rolled her eyes. “Oh boy, another newbie picked up by California Dreamin' girl!”
Ridge looked confused. “What do you mean ‘picked up’?”
Sharon sat down and explained. “She always dates guys that are new, or come here in the middle of the year. She even dated a few townies last year. I don’t know why she always gets guys who have just gotten here and don't know her.”
“She a nice lady though. She’s not sleazy or crude, so why the hating up?”
“Oh I don’t know, I’m not the only one who says it.” Sharon stuck her head out of her door and yelled down the hall for her roommate Colleen.
“What’s up?” Asked Colleen, a 3rd year Equestrian major.
“Her,” said Sharon as she pointed over to my closed door.
“So? What about her?”
“Did you ever see her date someone who was here the whole time and not just coming in from another school, or ummmm, a Freshman?”
“Yes, I’ve seen her with lots of different guys. She can be friends with them. Don’t believe all the gossip. She's good people.”
“I didn’t say she wasn’t a good person, Colleen, I’m just asking if you have noticed that about her?" Asked Sharon.
“How about this Sharon, how about I don’t give a shit and she’s a kind person. My horse was sick last year and she was the only one who stayed with me until the vet came and gave the all clear,” said Colleen.
“I’m not saying anything bad about her, just wondered about one thing,” said Sharon.
“Drop it Sharon. Brad is my good friend, and if he likes her, and she enjoys his company and no one is hurting anyone, what’s the big deal?”
“Just let me say this one thing and I’ll shut up!” Sharon sat down. “She’s a great person, and very kind. Smart too. But why would she have any interest in an incoming Freshman with this being her last semester?
Why doesn’t she date guys her own age, or in her class?”
“I don’t see you with someone who's been here, ummmmm, the whole time. I started this semester too, remember?” Ridge looked at her with a bit of frustration. “So stop. You shouldn’t hate up on someone who doesn’t mean anyone any harm.” And as an afterthought he added, “Brad is my friend. He’s the one that wanted to come here and see her. You think we came here on purpose just to see little ‘ol you?”
“What do you mean?”
“It was Brad’s idea to come here. He’s just faking us out. He wants to be with her. He told me he likes her. Age isn’t shit.”
“Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to be that way. I’m just under a lot of stress this semester and she never seems to have much trouble. In fact, she even writes other people’s term papers. Geez, I have enough trouble writing my own.”
“So what? Chick, what’s you problem? Did I pick the wrong girl?”
“No, Ridge, I really like you. It’s just that sometimes she gets on my nerves,” admitted Sharon.
“Well, get over it. The way she and Brad are going, we may double date,” said Ridge.
“Okay, I’ll stop, she’s fine, just a little annoying sometimes.”
“Ahhhhh, let it go. Have fun. And it’s her last semester, let her be and let Brad explore and have some fun, and be happy for them both. I feel they are going to hook up,” said Ridge.
He smiled at her and she stood up and they kissed and held each other.
Stay tuned for Part II: The Greatest Romance Ever Told. Try and recall who you were in love with. Try to make it as true as you can. More to come! THE END?
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