Saturday, March 10, 2007

"Three Seconds On, Three Seconds Off"

March 1, 2007 - Today marks the beginning of my blog, but not yet on the Internet. It will be a week or so until the blog is set up and I can actually post this, but I thought a head start was in order. At this point, I expect my blog will to be more or less about the process of writing my first book entitled, “Three Seconds On, Three Seconds Off,” (Writing on Stone Press) but who can say. One way or the other, however, I want to take this opportunity to welcome all who visit this site and read my updates and musings. I appreciate your attendance here and hope you will enjoy what you find. I will do my best to post any comments you wish to write as soon as I can, but considering my full-time work schedule, that could take several hours or several days.

And, yes, I plan to write at least one more book about Pointer Island. There are many more stories for me to choose from - my short list of possible story lines is over 80 and this first volume contains only 26 of them. For this first book, I chose stories in an ascending chronological order, taking you from my earliest memory at Pointer Island to my last few days there. I hope you approve.

The Blog
Ok, here we go…. In about the middle of 2001 I began writing down notes about any experiences I remembered while growing up on Pointer Island Lightstation. In 2001, I worked in a factory environment and carried a folded paper in the pocket of my coveralls so I could quickly jot down any new memories that surfaced. On my breaks, I transferred the notes into a small binder. This process went on until I hadn’t thought of any new events in over a month. I wanted to be sure I was done remembering before I moved on to the next step. Once the notes were more or less complete, I went through them and synthesized them into potential story lines. At this point, my intended audience was only my children, future posterity, and perhaps a few close friends.

On Jan 10, 2003, I wrote this in my personal journal:
“Last night I began writing the first part of my book on my life at the lighthouse. I find it difficult to jump back to the past in such detail for only a few minutes at a time and then back to the present. The feelings are strange. One minute I am in the present and the next I can see and smell and touch the past. My memories are so vivid that it seems I am actually time traveling.”

Four years ago, when I wrote this, the process of autobiographical writing was unexpectedly strange, but I liked it.

On Feb 15, 2004, I read an article in the Lethbridge Herald newspaper. It claimed that there was but one manned lighthouse left in all of North America. I had already seriously considered writing an autobiographical novel for the whole world to read, but this article provided the catalyst that solidified the consideration into a commitment. I have since learned that the newspaper article was not 100% accurate, but nonetheless, its influence catalyzed a change in the focus of my project.

In March of 2004, over a year into my writing, I gave copies of three finished stories to two retired English teachers, Elaine S. and Ross J. It was an agonizing wait while they read. What if they hated my writing style? Maybe I just thought I could write and was just fooling myself? Self-doubt plagued and pestered my conscious thoughts. It seemed like an eternity, but finally Elaine returned my stories with both written and verbal feedback. She liked the stories and overall project and told me not to worry about my writing style because it would develop naturally over time. She told me to just do it. Elaine also expressed a little confusion over the location of Pointer Island Lightstation, so I began drawing maps to use in the book. Ross’s feedback arrived next. His approach to feedback was different but equally welcome. Ross was also positive and encouraging, even asking me for a signed copy when my book was published. The best part about the opinions of Elaine and Ross was that they saw the world differently from me and they offered me a perspective that I could never have on my own.

Encouraged by Elaine and Ross, I began writing in earnest. Even though there was much writing to be done, I decided to see if I could find a publisher. I wrote a brief outline of the project, took my list of potential story lines – over 80 in all, and submitted requests to several publishers. They all responded, but politely declined publishing my work.

Dec 2004 found me a bit discouraged, but not out of it yet. I asked myself, “Why did I get rejected?” I attempted an objective look at my publishing request and realized that the proposed project was nebulous and needed to be more refined and focused. When I stopped to think about it, 80 short stories in one book was more than huge. It was then that I decided to create more than one volume and drew up an outline for volume one.

Throughout 2004, and into 2005, I worked on one story after another, sometimes re-visiting them to edit. Being the perfectionist that I am, I learned well the adage, “An artist is never satisfied with his work.” I primarily used my palm pilot and a portable keyboard, usually writing during breaks at work or while waiting for the occasional doctor’s appointment. Since 1993, I have run a photography studio – in my spare time, and 2004 was a good year for us. Using my palm pilot I could squeeze out time to write, but when I was home from my regular job and could access the computer, I had precious little spare time. Sadly, I made very slow progress.

Feb 7, 2005 – Was a major turning point for me. I had been having immense problems with a few co-workers in the factory where I worked. The trouble went way back into history, but came to a head as 2004 concluded. Twice, at work, the same co-worker assaulted me, and in plain sight. Other workers witnessed both events, but amnesia and blatant lying ended up being the order of the day. On February 7th I was fired from my job of nearly 18 years.
I entered a period of discouragement and could not write anything for a month. I went to counselling to see if that process would help me in my fight to get my job back. One of the first things my councillor asked me was, “Why do you want to go back to work in such and abusive environment?” He had a point, so I began exploring other options.

While I was exploring employment options, I began writing again, and it was very enjoyable, but my moods were up and down depending on if I thought I was getting somewhere with establishing a new career or not. A few individuals paid big dividends into my life and things began looking up. However, “looking up” wasn’t paying the bills very well.

By September 2005, I could see that if I didn’t enter a well paying career soon, that my sweet wife and I would lose our house. I decided to get my Class 1 drivers licence so I could pursue a career driving a semi. On October 3, 2005, I began a career as a professional driver.
I took my laptop on the road – Monday through Friday, but drove so much that I had only an hour or two a month to write. It was discouraging to sit behind the wheel of my 140,000-pound semi, barrelling down the road at 110 kilometres an hour and thinking of things I could not write down. After a while, I left that company and started with another. This second company supplied anhydrous ammonia (fertilizer) to local farms. Even though I worked long hours, I often had breaks where I had to wait for the farmers to bring their tractors to me so I could refill their ammonia tanks. I took full advantage of this free time. I began to write poetry and play with descriptions of nature’s simplicity. I couldn’t take my laptop, but the writing I did was helpful to my well-being and kept me thinking about how I wanted my writing style to be. When the weather was wet, I couldn’t work and had time to write in Three Seconds On, Three Seconds Off. It was slow but sure.

After working for this second company, the season of fertilizer ended and I left Canada to visit my wife’s parents in Indiana. They celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary and it was wonderful to be there with my son, daughters, son-in-law and grandson. Some time prior to this anniversary event, my wife’s mother was diagnosed with lymphomatic cancer (cancer in the blood) and her doctor told her that it would end her life - eventually. We continue to be sad about all this, but nevertheless, sickness is as much a part of life as health. So far she has undergone four rounds of chemotherapy and is about to begin a fifth on March 5, 2007. We pray for her every day, and hope the Lord will either heal her or make us up to the task of handling something worse.

When my wife’s mother was first diagnosed with cancer, I wrote a lengthy and heart-stirring poem that I will eventually share here. This blog is supposed to be about the creation of my book, but perhaps the time will come when this poem will be an appropriate addition.
The day I returned home from Indiana, I got a job working for another trucking company – a much nicer one than the first one I was with. I worked less hours, but still a lot, and again had time to write. I began to make good progress and planned to complete the book for publication before approaching another publisher. Then, something unexpected happened.
I met a man who just so happened to run a publishing company and when I mentioned my book, he expressed interest. The rest is history, and by the end of February, we were discussing a publishing contract.

March 3, 2007
Today, my wife was scheduled to work, but took the day off to have some fun with me. Every second Saturday she works. To me, that means that every second Saturday, I get to work on my book. However, instead of writing today, I helped out with a funeral. Following the funeral services we served a wonderful, hot meal to 101 people. I am glad I helped out, but a little sad that I didn’t get any story writing done today. Sometimes, however, it is good to sacrifice something to help your spouse.

At this point in my blog, I am going to include my book’s table of contents. Since this first volume has not been finalized, there may be some changes, but I think that this will be the way it ends up.

Table of Contents
Acknowledgements ----------------------------------------- Pg i
Introduction ------------------------------------------------ Pg iii
Maps -------------------------------------------------------- Pg v
The Middle of Nowhere? – 1960 ----------------------------- Pg 1
My First Home – 1960 -------------------------------------- Pg 15
A Soggy Halloween – 1963 ---------------------------------- Pg 32
Terrified - 1964 --------------------------------------------- Pg 41
The Secret Tunnel – 1964 ----------------------------------- Pg 47
A New Flag – 1965 to 1967 ---------------------------------- Pg 52
Dinah – 1964 to 1967 ---------------------------------------- Pg 60
A Surprise Start - 1966--------------------------------------- Pg 69
Over The Edge - 1966---------------------------------------- Pg 79
Dark Haired Surprise – 1967 -------------------------------- Pg 86
The Goat – 1968 -------------------------------------------- Pg 90
Tattered Traps & Make-believe Monsters - 1968------------ Pg 97
High and Dry - 1969----------------------------------------- Pg 100
Measured For A Casket - 1969 ------------------------------ Pg
Dad’s Lesson On Mercy – ---------------------------------- Pg
Windows & Waterspouts - 1970 ----------------------------- Pg
Tag - 1972 -------------------------------------------------- Pg
The Gap – 1973 --------------------------------------------- Pg
A Wolf In The Forest? - 1974 ------------------------------- Pg
Gloomy Day Miracle – 1974 --------------------------------- Pg
Ruby Throats - 1974 --------------------------------------- Pg
Deluge and Oars - 1976 ------------------------------------- Pg
The Good Samaritan - 1976 -------------------------------- Pg
The Maker of Hockey Pucks -1976 -------------------------- Pg
A Cruise To Remember - 1976 ----------------------------- Pg
Rivalry at it Best - 1978 ------------------------------------ Pg
One Last Ride - Dec 1979 ---------------------------------- Pg
Glimpses of the Future – 1982 ----------------------------- Pg
Glossary --------------------------------------------------- Pg

Most items on the list correspond with a completed story, but there are still a few to write and several to do a final edit on before my end of August 2007 deadline. I am currently working on High and Dry. It is one of the stories for which there was only an outline written, but now it is nearly finished. As a side note, the page numbers listed are for 8½ x 11-inch paper format. At this point, I don’t know how large the book will be, but I’ll mention that when I know.

March 10, 2007
Today is the day. In a few seconds, I will be posting this blog. Please feel free to make comments or ask questions. Enjoy…


srbh said...

Hi Davis....this is your sis! Guess which one!? Bingo! That wasn't hard was it! ha ha! Like your blog and your title too! Awesome and I get it! Amazing! ha ha! Good luck! Proud of you! Oh man...I just remembered I was going to send my stuff back with mom and forgot to! Catch ya later!

Anita Sanders said...

Hi Davis,
This is Anita, your "golden" member of the church. I love your blog and can't wait to read your book. I remember you telling in Indiana that you lived in a lighthouse. I always thougth this was neat. Keep up the great work and hurry and finish that book. Will it be available in the US.

Anonymous said...

Wow, Davis! Good for you! It is quite an accomplishment.

Anonymous said...

That's so great Davis. I know our family loves to know history of our relatives. Glad that someone has recorded the Bigelows. You guys have an extremely interesting childhood and I always though there could be a movie about it. Maybe there will now. Keep updating us. Glad to get the email!

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Dan said...

let me know where and when i can buy your book!

Dan said...

that last comment was from Joni

Davis Bigelow said...

Thanks for the encouragement. When I first began moderating comments, I obviously wasn't very good at it. Thankfully, I have improve with age.
I'll try to keep better tabs on my blog, but with all the driving I do, I am often too tired at the end of the day to even check for comments. Please be patient. Thank you.