A rather messy letter today, on this four-day (for those of us here in the US) weekend. I’ve been working more on GRACE, and the biggest challenge has been staying focused on this specific phase of the project – on a full rough draft. This step is in some ways harder now. It’s the curse of knowledge – too tempting is the urge to jump ahead, be distracted by thoughts about the rest of the publishing process. (And I’m admitting this here in hopes that articulating it will dissolve some of its power.)
It’s helped to think about the podcast, actually. Before I started to work on each episode, I would already have the primary source material for that episode at hand: the raw interview(s). Here, with the new novel, with fiction, I have to generate that same material myself. I have to do the “recording” or “filming” (or, as CB said over lunch, “reporting”). Sometimes when I catch myself wondering what a librarian in Alabama is going to think of this book I haven’t written yet, I remind myself: “filming.”
I’m also trying to find the balance between what’s easy to write and what needs to be written. Sometimes I want to work on a later scene when I really should be working on the next scene, on filling in the gaps, letting the real story emerge out of a sequence of escalating events. Sometimes I feel like I’ve finally experienced enough of this new fictional world to talk about it, and other times I feel like I’ve barely seen the tip.
So: No neat conclusions this week, just more reminders to show up every morning, and to be okay with the messiness.