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  • Writer's pictureJay Cameron Parker

The Novel, Coronavirus

Updated: Nov 5, 2021

Once my theater closed, I found it challenging to write a play. The process of writing a play is a long one and not as solitary as some other writing genres. I write the play, the actors read the play, I rewrite the play, rehearse the play while rewriting the play, the play goes up in front of an audience, and I rewrite the play a whole bunch more. Without all of those elements at hand, playwriting, for me, is tricky. But, I know how to rent a theater and put a show together, so if I wrote something that I really felt strongly about, there was still some motivation to keep going.

Then the pandemic hit. So renting a theater, gathering actors to rehearse and perform, and getting an audience was out of the question.

I wrote a screenplay; it seemed like the L.A. thing to do. It was my third screenplay, and I guess it came out okay. But, it’s now sitting in my final draft folder, gathering cloud dust with the rest of my scripts.

I’ll go further into detail about my bouts with depression on another day, but when I don’t write, I get depressed, or my depression deepens. And going into the depths of despair during a pandemic seemed somewhat cliché.

So I went back to the writing genre I studied and enjoyed in my youth. Fiction. I wrote a novel called Machine of War about a young man who returns to his small-town home from WW2 suffering from PTSD.

I was inspired by what I saw my grandfather deal with when I was a kid. He was a WW2 vet who had fought in the Battle of the Bulge and taken prisoner. He was shot several times. He would sometimes show me the shrapnel still lodged under the skin in his belly and legs. He drank a lot, but he was very attentive and loving and worked very hard. Loud noises bothered him, and as he aged, softer noises bothered him too.

The story’s setting is a small town in Illinois, fashioned after the place where my mother was raised. I’d been there a couple of times as a child. But thanks to the internet and a bunch of photos she kept of her childhood, I believe I put together a real-world where my characters reside.

While these things were an inspiration, the book isn’t about my grandfather nor my mother, and the town’s name is fictional, although I did keep it in Illinois. I really enjoyed writing the book, so much so that I wrote another one right after. I used bits and pieces of real-life in that one too.

Both novels have gone through several rewrites and beta-readers, and now I’m searching for a literary agent or publisher. I’ll talk about the rejection letters on another day.

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