I started writing a novel in the early 1990s. It was about basketball in Indiana in its early days, when men and boys and women and girls were just beginning to learn and play the sport. I had researched the sport in that time period by reading hundreds of newspaper articles in libraries in various places in Indiana. My research was prompted by a conversation I had with an old gentleman in Angola whom I had met by chance. His name was Emory Druckamiller.
During our discussion, he told me that he had played basketball and baseball at Indiana University in the early 1920s. He had been (he said) a star high school basketball player in Kosciusko county. Having never met Emory, I didn’t know how much of his story could be believed. He didn’t seem to be making it up, but I had never heard of him, knew no one who had heard of him, and couldn’t be sure that he wasn’t just fantasizing.
After my meeting with Emory, I visited libraries in Warsaw, Mentone, Syracuse, Pierceton, and eventually dozens of others around the state. Emory hadn’t lied to me. Based on the newspaper accounts of his athletic skills, he was obviously the talk of Kosciusko County and most of the rest of northern Indiana when he was in high school.
After a while, of course, my research led me to other stories about basketball that didn’t include mention of Emory Druckamiller. I immersed myself in the history of the sport that Indiana has become so famous for. During my research, I couldn’t keep my imagination from spinning tales based on the inspiration provided by the many interesting people and events that were brought to light in the newspapers of the period.
I sat down one day and started writing. I knew where the tale would begin. I didn’t know where it would end, but I felt compelled to write it anyway. And I did so.
Other projects eventually crowded my schedule and my novel remained in draft form. Over the years, I revisited it from time to time, rereading, editing, and tweaking it. The characters remained with me. They were friends and acquaintances, just as if they were real people in a real world. I felt as if I had abandoned them by not continuing the project to its end, which would be the submittal of the book to a publisher or agent in an attempt to get it published.
Now I’ve started the process again. I decided, finally, to bring this project to its conclusion by finishing it. It isn’t an easy task. I have several boxes full of papers, notes, reference material, and several drafts. I had written a new Chapter 1 about eight years ago. I had to rewrite the original Chapter 1 to make the new one fit. I added a character in the new first chapter, and now have to work that character into the rest of the story. Each time I revise a scene or the words of a character, I must make sure the revised text isn’t negating or confusing something that happens later.
At this point, I’m working in Chapter 4. It is 1912. The boys of Stillwater, Indiana, are practicing basketball in a local barn that has been converted to a gymnasium. The manager of the Stillwater Youth Basketball League, Delmar Stephens, is doing his best, unintentionally but nonetheless assuredly, to hinder the progress of the boys in the learning of the sport. Ivan Stetler, who is soon to become the nemesis of Stephens, has entered the gym to observe the practice session and report back to the Stillwater Athletic Association. During the session, Stetler sees several things that cause him to shout suggestions to the boys. This creates a confrontation between Stephens and Stetler. Oh boy, this is the stuff of fiction. I’m having fun.
I intend to update this blog with my progress in my endeavor to finish the novel and submit it for publication. The posts relating to this project will be filed in the category “Stillwater.”
I am committed to finishing this project, and intend to use my blogging of it as an inspirational aid.