The manuscript for “Swamis” is up to somewhere over one hundred thousand words. It’s a lot of words considering that, when I was told a novel should be over sixty thousand, I didn’t think I could get there.
Not that I did anything that I would call padding, I am now at the exciting conclusion, and need another five thousand or so to wrap it all up.
I had been considering the last line possibilities for quite some time. Originally it was going to be, “They say I might be getting out of here sometime soon.” Then it was… well, I think it will still be a different line, but, now, I’m thinking about adding one more line. Here it is: “I didn’t ask if he was killed with a twenty-two or a forty-five.”
Yeah. There must be lots of exciting stuff going on before this.
Since “Swamis” is, supposedly, a memoir written by Joseph DeFreines, Junior, and, just to make sure no one confuses him with me, I have put Erwin, someone of about the same age; another surfing inland cowboy from Fallbrook, North San Diego County, in the book as a character.
That Erwin is doing some illustrations for the eventual book. Here are three drawings toward that goal: One references a character very early on, Sid, whose last name neither I or my character can remember. Sid was a team rider for Surfboards Hawaii at the time the story takes place, 1969, was featured hanging ten in an earlier black and white ad in “Surfer” magazine, and, as revealed by in the used board room at the Surfboards Hawaii shop in Encinitas, he was known to thrash his boards.
The second illustration is meant to represent the portion of the old stairs at Swamis, about two thirds of the way up, where a bigger deck offered a perfect view of the waves. This is where I was, on one of those days that starts out mediocre and becomes great, and from where I witnessed, in 1968 or so, a flawless cutback-to off-the-foam to bottom-turn to top-turn by Billy Hamilton. This is where “Old men stop here” was dug into the railing, and it is where Gingerbread Fred’s body ends up. In the novel.
The third illustration became, because of the way it turned out (compared to how it was intended) as a representation of one of the main characters, Chulo; whose death by immolation (love that word) next to the Self Realization Fellowship wall is critical to the story. Chulo is described as looking like a limping (he has an actual limp) Jesus. I scanned the drawing before adding a beard. Just in case.
I have put some of the early “Swamis” chapters on this site, but, one, you’d have to scroll a long ways down to find them, and, two, my propensity for changing and editing makes them different. At least. I’m not saying it all might be different in the future. It might.
I’m just hoping Joseph DeFreines, Junior doesn’t fire me as illustrator.