author’s note: writing chapter 7.2
Posted by jeanne
this last chapter in the first section has been the hardest to write yet. and it should have been the easiest.
it should have been easy because i realized at the end of chapter 6 that i was going to have to completely rewrite the first section, so it should have been easy to just knock it out. and the 7.1 did almost flow out of my fingers. but this last part took forever. of course, it goes all the way to nathan’s family, so i guess i shouldn’t complain.
it was hard because so many other things got in the way. my out-of-the-studio responsibilities have doubled since march, and all sorts of shit happened since the beginning of june, which, since i didn’t write it down, are gone now.
mainly, it was realizing that i needed to trash the first section and start again. that puts my schedule in the can, and means the first draft will take more like five years to write. at this rate, i’ve done much less than one chapter a month. because it’s a year after i started with chapter one, and i’m still in chapter 7. i don’t know whether to stop work on the rest of the novel in order to go back and fix the beginning, or to plow on toward the end and fix it later. all the writing advice in the universe says to keep going because it’s only a fucking first draft anyway. and after sitting with it for a month it’s plain to me that all that advice is spot on. but the emotional push to abandon everything and fixate – well, that’s a heady thing, but fixating is the same thing as stopping, and my energy needs to keep moving forward.
of course, in the end, it’s my personal process in writing this story thru to the end that is important, not whether anybody else reads it, not whether it achieves any of the lofty aims that i imagine while i’m letting the fairies write it for me. i have the same lofty, ambitious thoughts when i’m painting a picture. the ambitions are simply a side effect of the energy needed to do the task, the emotions that allow me to get the piece finished. they’re not real plans, and they fade when the task is over. the mistake is to think the thoughts, the plans and ambitions, are the point. the point is seeing the job thru, the thoughts and feelings you have along the way are essentially meaningless. you can take an ambition and run with it, but it’s just the next task, not really connected to whatever you did before.
one of the distractions has been my decision, in february, to go to iceland and see what antarctica without ice will actually look like. it had always attracted me, but never occurred to me as something i needed to do for this novel until then, and once i decided i wanted to do it, and could do it, and then arranged to do it, i have been busily getting involved with the place, and diverting my energy to it. this is another one of the reasons for the slowness in my writing. at first it was just finding out about the place i’m going to be going – in another year. studying maps, reading reviews, listening to icelandic tv in the background, following icelandic writers on facebook, stuff like that. but then i realized i wanted to do something while i was there, something other than write my novel. i began to dream up public art projects. and found something i could do, and started doing the research, and contacting people about it, and there’s a real plan developing, with proposals and estimates, and everything to be done long distance except a very small part when i’m there.
but anyway, i need to finish my chapter. nathan’s family awaits. and then i’ll print out and read all 7 chapters, but still continue with chapter 8, while i’m digesting what have i done.