Michele Dorsey: Sabrina’s Morning Pages

We’re welcoming our good friend Michele Dorsey to the blog today! Michele is celebrating C. Michele Dorseythe pending release of her book, No Virgin Island, a Sabrina Salter Mystery. We’re thrilled to have Michele here, and are anxiously awaiting Sabrina’s debut (on sale next week!)

Take it away, Michele!

People familiar with Julia Cameron’s Artist’s Way know that she urges artists of all kinds to writing Morning Pages each day. “Morning Pages are three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing, done first thing in the morning. There is no wrong way to do Morning Pages–they are not high art. They are not even ‘writing,’ ” according to Cameron’s website. 

When I began writing No Virgin Island, I knew I had a protagonist who resisted baring her soul. How could I get to know this edgy character so I could share her story and show her softer side? I decided Sabrina would disclose herself best if she wrote some morning pages. Once she did, I had a much easier time understanding her and sharing her with readers. Here’s what Sabrina bled onto paper.

No Virgin IslandThe Day After

Okay, I just have one question: why me? How can this be possibly happening again? Was I born under a black cloud? Must be. No mother abandons her child, leaving her with a drunken daddy, unless that baby was born under a huge thunderhead.

That may explain how I ended up with Ben. I was ignorant about love and normal relationships. Ruth may have bee a mother figure, but she was no role model when it came to men, although she did scare the bejesus out of my father that night she had found me sitting on the roof outside of the window in the boarding house where we lived. What, was I four? He’d never leave me alone to go to a bar again.

I loved the little bungalow in the motel/diner Ruth owned and rented to us after that night. A tiny two-bedroom beach shack with space heaters. I never wanted to leave there. I felt safe living next to Ruth’s diner and Ruth who lived above it.

But none of this history explains the dead man in the hammock yesterday. After I shot and killed Ben, I could understand how it happened after the shock wore off. What I couldn’t comprehend was how Faith Chase latched onto me, my story and stole what was left of my life.

It was humiliating to be cheated on by Ben. I felt as if I were being punished for having taken him from his wife and kids. But I’d only fled to our Nantucket cottage to be alone after seeing him and his bimbo together at the piano bar in the Copley Plaza that night. It was the perfect place to flee to in the middle of the winter. After all, Ruth was dead. Where else would I go? I am a damn orphan. How could I know he would bring her to our cottage in Nantucket that same night for a tryst? When I heard someone coming up the stairs, I was groggy and frightened. It was only natural to reach into the nightstand for the gun Ben kept.  Naturally, a woman alone on an isolated island would shoot an intruder.

Will I ever forget the look in his eyes when he realized I had shot him, after I’d flicked on the lamp at the sound of a woman shrieking? I didn’t recognize him until then, did I? That’s what my lawyer swore, what the jury believed when they acquitted me.

But INN reporter Faith Chase didn’t believe me. She eviscerated me on air every night for eighteen months, analyzing every minutia of evidence. Why was I sleeping in a sweatshirt if I had a drawer filled from Victoria’s Secret? Never mind, it was the middle of January. Why did I have a gun in the nightstand? Forget that it was licensed to Ben who was a gun collector.

How did Ben’s little sweetie get to be the victim, along with his ex-wife and kids, while I was painted as a detached loner raised in poverty, rejected not only by her mother, but also her maternal grandmother?

Faith Chase made me dessert for every person who likes to have a course of trash TV for dinner. By the time she was done with me, I may have been acquitted by a jury of my peers, but a nation had found me guilty as charged. I had no choice but to extricate myself, to find solace and solitude on another island, warmer with gentle trade winds to soothe my sorry, parched soul. I keep my distance, especially from men I find attractive. That includes Neil Perry.

So how did this happen? How could a dead man on a hammock with a bullet in his belly land right in the middle of my new life? And how long will it be before Faith Chase is serving me as chopped meat on national television again?

Readers, don’t you want to meet Sabrina after reading this? I do! 

24 Thoughts

      1. Love it! I’ll have to try that!

        And of course I want to meet Sabrina after reading this great post!

  1. I am so darn happy for you, Michele! Thanks for whetting our appetites. I love this line: Faith Chase made me dessert for every person who likes to have a course of trash TV for dinner.

  2. I loved learning the backstory of your killer. I’ve been writing back stories for my victim and those affected or suspected, but now I’ll include much more about the killer or killers. awesome post, Michele! All the best with your book!! –kate

    1. Actually, Kate, they are the Morning Pages of my protagonist. But what a great idea to write them also for the victim and the villain. I think the point of the exercise is that if you crawl into the head of any character and imagine what his or her thought process is, you can only improve that character.

  3. A character’s morning pages–great concept, Michele. That’s certainly a way to get into his/her head. And these pages are certainly intriguing! Best of luck with No Virgin Island.

  4. Thanks, Ramona. It’s actually an interesting experience, letting a character tell you what she’s feeling or thinking without constraint. A little like free-falling with a pen in your hand.

  5. Thank you, Michele for coming by. I’ve been anxiously awaiting this book for months, and now I really can’t wait. I’m not a morning person, so “afternoon pages” is as good as it gets around here–for me of my characters!

    1. I think when you’re doing Morning Pages for a character, you don’t have to worry about it being actually morning, Barb. (Although not true if you are writing them for yourself, according to Julia Cameron, who is pretty adamant that you must do them first upon rising, before you get too plugged in.) The exercise reminds me of what Elizabeth Lyon talks about in her excellent book, Manuscript Makeover, when she recommends slipping onto your character’s personna and experiencing the character’s emotions.
      Thanks to you and all of the Wicked Cozies for having me here on the blog today.

  6. Michele, thanks for visiting with us today and sharing your process. I love hearing how different writers work and this is especially intriguing!

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