Lunch break -- less time than ever to update the blog.
For readers of art reviews, I will stop writing reviews this summer in order to devote all my time to the new novel. I am working under the aegis of an Alberta Foundation Grant for Literary Arts and so want to make the absolute most of this opportunity. I know how important this is and how lucky I am to have received it.
My schedule since May 1 on the dot is basically to get an early start, either at the computer or to my secret lair located in the library tower of the U of C and write straight through until roughly 1:00. I then take a brief lunch (meaning coffee) pause and begin again, stopping only at 5:00 or so. How can creativity be so regimented you say -- I answer with read Twyla Tharp's book on creativity. Invested time is critical to creating. Routine creates productivity. (I'm not denying the creative frenzies that we often follow). In the evenings I sometimes write a bit more, if the eyes are not too worn out, but I see maintaining energy as in a marathon as critical to not burning out. Otherwise I read. The new books will be the subject of a future posting.
I recently came across an interview with Elizabeth McCracken (The Giant's House) who I first read in the Granta Best of Young American Novelists. In it she talks of her lazy writing habits, and her Providence boosted writing attacks. She says she's done a book when she hates it. This is the sort of line that I mull over for a long time. I think, for me, it's less that I hate a work, and more that the work eventually loses its thrill. I have revised it to the point where I know if I revise it more, I'll either be diminishing it, repeating myself, or just be writing another book. Sometimes ew ideas become so enveloping that I must move on. But hate it? I can't say I ever really hated a work I created. Even those I've destroyed (and those could fill a dumptruck) were not works I hated. Strong word that I reserve for works of others.
(laugh track inserted here)
Now for a bit of news regarding the new novel.
On Saturday I printed out a new draft (no longer in this age of word processing can we attribute a number to each draft). Currently kicking in over 126,000 words. The hard copy was so overwhelmed with written notes that I had to get a clean copy in order to continue.
And so it begins again. The rewriting is a daily given. I also undertook some significant structural changes that have been haunting me for quite a long time, and I deleted a good deal of material that never sat quite right. Ah, basing the future of the world on a gut feeling. But what a rejuvenation to have the hard copy to see the index cards with notes and colors (I use colored pencils to indicate different routes and connections).
So here's one to put in your pipe and smoke, how is it that writing can at once be simultaneously so mundane and so thrilling?