I have entered a new phase in my relationship with the book I am working on. After almost a week of being home alone, with multiple snows that have kept me in and focused, I have been paying attention not just to the work, but to how I work.
Most of my writing has been poetry and short pieces of prose. Both of those forms allow for a very different relationship to writing then the long winding path of a novel. The difference feels like meeting a friend for a drink and having an intense two hour conversation and saying goodbye until the next time as compared to a long standing marriage. I have been carrying the idea for this book for a long time and when I started working on it, almost two years ago, there was a honeymoon period and then a season or two of elation; ideas and imagery laden scenes. It was like a move into a new home. At first filled with possibility. I loved the research and initial character development. I wrote one opening version and then another. And then I got bogged down and in the last six months virtually set it aside.
I worked on short stories and poems. I blogged weekly. I read a lot about process and how other writers approach shifting forms, integrating research (this is an historical novel), balancing dialogue and narrative. And of course the largest piece; balancing my writing work with my job, with friends and family, with travel and the rest of life.
I don’t have answers per se but I do feel like I have a refurbished tool bag. I entered this week determined to find a way back in to the story. What I realized is not anything new but it is renewing.
It is the daily work, commitment overriding ease, that will keep the story moving forward. Love is sustaining but without soup and clean clothes it just gets hungry and worn.
And so, I am cutting and pasting parts of chapters and descriptions. Reordering and reforming. Revising in short what I have written before I go on to write more. This will not be the final revision, not by far, but it is a new structure with an expanded plot line and I want to have it in place before I begin to write more. It will change again, like any long term relationship it will be a series of connected relationships that change as we learn about ourselves, each other, and the geographies we inhabit.