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Just one of those days

It’s winter here. That doesn’t mean very much if you live in one of those places that really has winter; this is sort of San Diego light. But there are days, and Monday was one of them, where it stays dark, chilly, rainy, and windy all day. So I am pretending this is really winter, ignoring the sun and mild temperature this morning, and as a consequence have decided to have the blahs.

As usual, I get the blahs in only a couple of typical ways, one about health, when I don’t feel good, the other about work, when I don’t work good. This is a work blah. Although I am getting over a cold and a couple of days ago had a pretty high fever, watching the World Cup kept my spirits up, so I skipped right over the health blahs — landing with a sticky plop in the dark muck of the work blahs.

The condition of my novel

I work like this:  straight through, chronologically, unable to move to the next page until the one, all the ones, preceding it are finished, even unable to have any idea what the next line will be until the one before it is finished. It’s how my mind works, as well, so it’s not surprising that I write that way. I cannot multi-task and move through thoughts singularly and linearly; I don’t do circular or random. As a thinker and a writer, I am pathologically logical.

So, a long break without working or thinking about work has the result of dissipating all there is, scattering it around my mind in inaccessible, hidden, unknown crevices, fragmenting the whole into disconnected pieces, like finding your jigsaw puzzle, the one nearly finished, has been toppled to the floor and some of the pieces kicked under the sofa or behind the door or eaten by the dog.

This happened on page 285.

So I am going to start all over by sitting down and reading from page 1 through page 285, which I hope will put the pieces back where they belong and recreate the pattern that will allow me to know what the next sentence must be at the top of page 286. Because right now I think that sentence must have been eaten by the dog, but I hope it’s just lost behind the fridge.

One thing that is not dissipated: I know exactly what this story is about.

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13 replies »

    • If you listen to this version of Heart like a Wheel all the way to the end, there is a nice touch emphasizing the lyrics and the way she interprets them.

      To answer your question, no, I do not go back and read the entire novel as a piece until it is finished, and then I read it as a final edit, hoping to catch what typos and mistakes might have survived. Usually before the day’s work, I just read the page or maybe two or three pages preceding where I’m starting.

      It isn’t necessary to read it from the start because, when I work everyday, the narrative thread and tone, the characterizations, are always fresh and alive and immediate. Besides, after you pass 50 or 60 pages, it would be awfully time-consuming (and eventually likely to produce an immense boredom) to keep reading all it over and over.

      I have to reread it all now to reestablish the story’s immediacy and vitality. That’s what I lost in nearly a month of not working on it.

  1. Oh dear, nothing worse than losing the thread but I do love the analogy of the jigsaw and the dog and so for that, I thank you.

  2. Here’s hoping you find the thread again soon, Don. And also that you find your own novel good reading. That’d be a good sign.

    Celebrating Bloomsday today?

    • I’m going to spend Bloomsday watching the Uruguay – South Africa match, which starts in less than half an hour.

      Clearly I haven’t started the reading project yet.

      What better excuse can there be but than the World Cup?

      • I’ll be commenting similarly when college football starts up in a couple months.

  3. I hope Argentina wins, because I have never had the experience of living in a country during the time it won a World Cup; it should be a bit extraordinary.

    I went over and read your story. It reads like a prose version of a song Leonard Cohen might write. Maybe like Famous Blue Raincoat. I have always suspected that Cohen writes what will later become songs as poems or stories, then later just creates a tune that fits.

    Much of your writing swims in a torrential sea of metaphor, and this is so like you.

    Thank you for sending me to it.