Recognizing the Fractions

COLOR PHOTO: J. Felice Boucher

I always knew that I was a writer. It was not something I wanted to be. It was just something I resonated with as a child. I would pretend that I was a writer by writing. I played with my father’s old typewriter, you know the manual kind where the keys stick to one another and the ribbon runs out of ink, and I set up an “office” for myself. Yeah. I was that kind of kid.

When the ideas filled me, I would write plays and short stories. I loved old radio dramas and while in high school wrote a radio mystery play that my father, who owned a radio station, produced for me using the old sound effect records he had on file. My father was a journalist and a broadcaster and he insisted I learn to think and type at the same time so as not to waste time writing by hand. He helped me see journalism as its own language.

I wrote because I was bored. We weren’t allowed to watch much television. When I got tired of reading what others had written, I lay on the floor and dreamt up my own scenarios and dramatic scenes.

I loved the theater and acted in plays. The single most influential piece of my writing became those play scripts. I studied them, and of course, memorized my lines, but while doing so, I listened quite intently, to language.

I tried my hand at poetry. I wrote thoughtfully and I erased things. I rewrote entire novels. I pared down stories to their essence and discovered that I am a good editor of my own words. I found that I liked this about myself. The less I wrote the stronger I became. The less I said the more influential I could become.

The pieces of myself were all there, but they were scattered about. I wanted to become a journalist and write poetry, plays, movie scripts, and flash fiction. And so I did. Then little by little, I realized I liked them all. I couldn’t differentiate myself and my writing and adhere to one thing. I was either going to re-write and re-write trying to make my work fit into a specific expectation, or I was going to try something I had not done before.

I chose to try my hand at something new. A novella.

What makes a novella a novella? Well, for one thing, it is very much a small novel. OK, that’s easy. It might contain anywhere from 17,0000–40,000 words. You can look that up on Google. Sure, it might have certain constraints, like a short story or a novel will, but do you know what a novella does not have? It does not have trappings.

And what do I mean by “trappings?” A novella, as a conduit for language, is not caught in its own crosshairs. It is what a writer wants a novella to be. Sure, you could probably say this about a play, or a novel, maybe even a piece of journalistic writing, but I always felt constricted while writing in these forms. Only poetry felt less restrictive.

Aligning myself, the fractions of all that I am, and placing them into the writing form called a novella, has given me room to become the writer I wish to become.

Therefore, one can only conclude: Writers need to find what makes them sing. I found, after trying a multitude of genres and voices, that I preferred the novella. I like short works that make an impact. I encourage writers to play with their words, attract all the pieces of themselves that linger about, and place all of these pieces out on the table before making any definitive conclusions about themselves.

Writers bleed this kind of sweat into their characters. I can honestly say that the character Edie May, in my novella ROOM SERVICE PLEASE, is not me, per se, but she is the sweat and the tears of fifteen years of hard work of figuring myself out as a writer. She is not me personified one hundred years ago, she is the woman only capable of putting one foot in front of the other as life hands her, well, her life.

Edie May is the cumulative spirit of many women. She is Grace, but only after she gets knocked around a bit.

And that is me. Life gives us a run for our money, doesn’t it? How else will we define it? It is on us to make our lives, the fractions and the barbed wire, the multiple pieces and all that we have tangled up along the way, sing!




Reiki Master and Author of The Intrepid Meditator and Room Service Please. Let’s connect: &

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Alicia Cahalane Lewis

Alicia Cahalane Lewis

Reiki Master and Author of The Intrepid Meditator and Room Service Please. Let’s connect: &

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