I remember the exact moment that THE LAKE OF LIVING WATER, my sixth novel, was born. I was running in the woods on a November afternoon in
The air was cool-- almost cold-- and smelled of evergreen and tannin. The long
shadows of pines were intersticed with reaches of wan, hollow, almost–winter Vermont New
As I ran, two visions appeared in my mind’s eye-- simultaneously, as I remember it. I saw the image of a man sitting alone in a room inside a cold, dark, stone tower. He was looking out a window and across the broad expanse of
at the patterned skeins of late autumn sunlight that moved and shimmered on the
The other image that came was that of a book… a small book, to my surprise, full of white space around blocks of text, of stories written in many voices.
I knew that the book would tell me who the man in the tower was. And I knew that I would have to write the book.
Those who have read my other books, my poems, who have seen my paintings and listened to the music I compose, will know about my fascination with the nature, history, geology, and PRESENCE of Lake Champlain—in particular the shoreline and waters of Burlington Bay. This future book, I knew in the moment of its apparition, would have this locus itself as a main character.
I had, that fall, just finished reading John Cowper Powys’ A GLASTONBURY ROMANCE, and that novel was still looming large --it is, after all, more than 1,000 pages long-- in my thoughts. I was captured by its sense of place, of mystery, of intersecting lives. I suppose, then, that I was being called to write my own version of a book like that. (I am still, however, a bit puzzled that it would appear to me as such a small volume…)
I came home from my run that November afternoon and began writing. I went on to write about 80 pages and an outline over the rest of the month and through December. (This is, so far, the only time I have ever committed to an extended stretch of writing in the afternoons—I am most definitely a morning writer!)
I didn’t come back to the manuscript until the following spring and summer, when I finished a first draft-- also accruing, along the way, a notebook full of the results of historical research. Over the next two years I kept writing, editing, and revising, finishing an 8th--and final-- draft in the summer of 2012.
shows some traces
of the mystery/detective genre, but I have no doubt that it is ultimately a
strange and not easily categorized novel.
I accept this, knowing that in writing this book I have done everything
I can to get to the heart of my own perceptions of --and connections to-- the
mystery and power of the lake and shoreline that inspired it. LAKE
OF LIVING WATER
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