*peeks head around corner*
Oh! Hello. It’s been awhile. Long enough that I feel awkward, like I bumped into you in the grocery store when I just dashed out to get something embarrassing like toilet paper, and I haven’t washed my hair because it’s Sunday, and I still have half my pajamas on under my sweater. And then I do the nervous-talking thing, because that’s what you do when you run into people and you’re half in your pajamas, and you talk yourself into a hole and then everyone wants out of the conversation.
All of that is to say, I haven’t been writing much. More correctly, I have been writing quite a bit, just not right here. It’s not personal, and I’m doubting anyone has really noticed, anyway. But I write 40 hours a week now, and I like it and can you believe they pay me for it? Salary plus benefits, plus free coffee and a lovely view? But after an 8-6 day of writing, I’m cross-eyed and used up, sometimes. And I walk Dawg and get us both fed and then lately I sit down and study things like contract administration and architectural liability and specification codes, and I am so toxic about this examination process that I am trying to keep that contained over here and not unleash my vitriol about it all over the internet. Again.
Abrupt subject change, I have been wrestling alligators all weekend. Not all weekend- some of it I spent on a chain gang, using a pickaxe to upturn rocks that were 3/4 of the way buried in hardscrabble dirt. Part of the weekend I was on a ship adrift in the Bermuda Triangle, wishing for wind, or celestial light by which to navigate. There might have been an albatross. I don’t know. At one point I was rock climbing with a heavy, heavy pack, and I was pretty sure I was going to plunge to my death, but I didn’t. When I needed a break I swam the English Channel and back.
All of that is to say, I had a lovely weekend. And I am slam exhausted, as if I had done any and all of the things above, and not just sat in a lovely place with a lovely view and typed, which is what actually happened.
I started a novel.
When last I dumped a great deal of awkward emotion upon you, I believe I mentioned that this was the only Life List goal to which I was willing to commit this year. I am proud and relieved to say, I have achieved it. Not the novel. The starting. The starting was terrifying.
The weekend, though, was exactly what I needed. If you’ve known me any length of time, you probably know exactly where I would go to start such an endeavor, and that’s where I went. It’s not a secret place, and it’s not my place, but I’m also not going to talk about it, because now it is my Special Occasion Writing Place, and I’m not sharing my little part of it. There was a river, and good coffee, and that’s all I wanted.
I don’t have any plans to get all precious about the process, really. I know that the best writers make space for writing in their everyday lives, and they do it consistently, and that’s how you get a book written. That, eventually, is what I will be doing. But I believe you have to start something important with at least a little bit of ceremony. The starting gun, the Nascar flag, the Opening Ceremonies, whatever. So I went, and found a river and enough solitude to sit quietly and gather some thoughts.
I told Scarlett O’Hara what I was doing, because she goes all worst-case-scenario when you try to be evasive, and if I hadn’t told her she’d just have imagined something far more reckless and tragic than writing a novel. Her first question was, “AM I IN IT?” and my answer was, “Well, you are NOW.”
And, we have an opening scene.
Kidding. There was a lot of cursing after that, on my part, but after feeling unjustly accused and writer’s blocked and interfered with, I was able to issue a reminder that a novel is, by definition, FICTION. And that I would never, ever, ever be discussing it again.
And here I am discussing it, but only enough to say that, in my humble opinion as a professional writer, a phrase which I throw around a lot when I’m trying to prove that I Am Qualified To Do This, a good novel is about nobody, because it’s fiction. And it’s about everybody, because it’s no good at all if there isn’t something universal in it. Is anyone going to recognize themselves? No. Will it be recognizable as a story of its place, and of its time, and of its writer? Will the characters feel things all of us have felt, in some form? I surely hope so.
So, you know, if you all want to go ahead and pick out your pseudonyms, and your favorite personality foibles, and exactly what it is you plan to be doing in this novel of mine, go ahead and shoot all of that my way. It will save me a hell of a lot of time, and will really speed this process along. Because I have no plot, no defined characters yet, no idea what exactly is to come; I do, however, have twenty intense pages of notes, themes, character fragments, and ideas. And some of it, unless I am mistaken, has potential. Some of it is good, even.
And that, gentle readers, is where I have to kind of set this all down for now, because I have seven fucking architecture exams for which I must study, starting with the Whose Fault Is It exam. But beyond all of that, I now at least feel like there’s something better, and it involves creating, and thinking about more important things than litigation and waterproofing and ventilation tests. It involves real life, although everything in this book will be made up, wrought from this little brain, typed out with these two little hands, and I hope parts of it are good.
I can’t remember when I’ve been more worn out. Night, y’all.