Novel Excerpts

RUNE QUARTET: How Journaling Informs and Influences the Plot and Literary Genre, Memoir-Driven.

September 5, 2019.

The reason protagonist Lucina Holzer keeps a journal, the content of her entries, and the use she eventually makes of them all play a vital role in plot and character development throughout the four books of the memoir-driven, women’s historical novel, RUNE QUARTET.

In Book One, The Fire Dragon Street Theater, and Book Two: Wheeling Across America,  Lucina’s journal entries add historical grounding to the action, much like film projections can add background to a staged drama. Spontaneous observations penned in her black books also reveal inner struggles of the characters: How do stubborn egos give way to the team-effort required for collaborative-constructed street plays? What are the rewards in sacrificing a stable home-life and stylish furniture for uncomfortable anti-war demonstrations and grungy movement-office couches? What does it feel like to tie-the-knot with a drunk justice of the peace?

In the uneasy process of exchanging her first carefully-honed mode of expression, solo sculpture building, for artist-activist, collective creations, Lucina struggles to keep tract of her ever-changing identity. She finds  journal-keeping gives comfort and helps her develop the language skills she needs to contend with male, political, talking-heads that flood her once serene studio world, in particular the verbose, fiery speech-maker poet, Louis Altman who has captured her imagination and heart.

With a time leap of almost thirty years, the journal presence in Book Three, Ruth & Lucina, takes on a different role. These precious black books, now carefully stored underneath Lucina’s bed, are sacred repositories of a three-decade struggle to be true to her changing identities within the steadfast focus of building community for the good of all.

Lucina’s journals now drive the novel and her characterization: they record her transformation from heterosexual, artist-activist, once deeply entwined with her first love and comrade, Louis Altman, to defining herself as woman-identified-woman and lesbian. Her lively accounts of their open-marriage illuminate how she and Louis helped each other grow, affirming their unique selves and consequently the redefining of their connection. Lucina’s private record becomes a map for her present negotiation of the rocky, unfamiliar terrain she has begun to travel with Ruth Weismann, Arab-Israeli, straight but lesbian-curious writer for leftist public journalism.

Instead of turning to a therapist to help her embrace a new love from another country, culture and roots, Lucina in 1993 revisits her “past lives” penned in her journals to envision a way forward. While Ruth experiences her first Gay Pride March, Lucina wrestles with a long narrative reflection written in 1983 called, “Lucina Remembers Louis Altman.” While reflecting upon this reflection of her long unwinding from him, she gropes to allow the possibility of a deep, long-lasting, romantic and comrade-love again, this time with Ruth.

As the two women employ different means to find a way to each other, their courage to move through fear will be challenged again. Ruth’s urgent demand from her childhood soulmate, Rashad, to join him in the struggle for Palestinian rights, and Louis’ sudden death upend journal writing and reading for the time being as both women are propelled to undergo soul-wrenching rituals in nature.

The following excerpts exemplify how I used journaling to drive and inform plot in the Rune Trilogy:

Book One: Fire Dragon Street Theater. Journal Entry Excerpts from Chapter 15, “Finding a Way with Words”

Book Two: Wrestling with America. Journal Entry Excerpt from Chapter 49, “The Train Ride.”

Book Three: Ruth & Lucina. Text and Journal Entry Excerpts from Chapters 13, 17 and 19.


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