On November 1, 2011, I sat on the balcony of the Manta Ray Inn in Hollywood, FL, with a notebook and pen in hand, scribbling out the opening chapter of what my November Novel challenge. My idea was a group of Penn State students who met at the Penn State-Nebraska game in 1982, became friends, and how their friendship was renewed once a year at a Penn State tailgate. I was actually going to bring all the pieces together at the 2011 Penn State-Nebraska tailgate. All fictional, of course. But as I sat on that balcony, plotting the story and writing the opening chapter, I wondered what would be the hook. Something drastic had to happen, I thought, something that would make that tailgate different from all the rest, despite the Nebraska connection. Little did I know, five days later, I’d have a hook. A very unwanted hook named Jerry Sandusky.
As soon as the world fell apart here — and trust me, the following week felt like a death in the family; the entire town walked around in a daze, like we’d been punched in the gut — I had to put the novel aside. I couldn’t concentrate on my work, let alone a damn novel. And last summer, I inadvertently destroyed the small bits I had written when a water bottle leaked over the notebook. I threw it in the trash in a hotel in Moscow. I regret that.
The idea of a story never left me. Folks say write what you know, and what I know is Penn State football and the traditions surrounding it. I thought of a memoir about a year in Beaver Stadium. Lately, that memoir idea was strongly attached to the tragedy the football program is smothered under. In April, however, I attended a conference for writers, and one of the sessions I attended was about e-singles — writings that aren’t long enough to be full books but aren’t short enough to be articles. The session speakers were most interested in crime related stories. As I sat there, I kept coming back to Beaver Stadium in my mind, and thought, maybe the book I want — no need — to write is the investigation of why the Sandusky crime has tainted an entire community. I really don’t know of any other crime that has had a similar effect — please enlighten me if I’m wrong. But the truth is, Penn State has been branded as a pedophilia culture, and that is wrong. And I’m tired of it.
What has unfolded over the past 18 months has convinced me that there is a very important book in me, waiting to come out. This blog will help me understand what that book is. Whether it is a novel, an investigative book, or a memoir remains to be seen. But, if nothing else, I hope this blog will help the outside world understand what has happened in my world, and where the media were right and where they were wrong, and most importantly, why we must continue to let this all play out in the court system. We don’t know what we think we know. Always remember that.
Also note that this is my first attempt with WordPress, so I’m learning as I go. This blog will get better in its appearance as I figure out what the hell I’m doing. I promise.