Saturday, October 9, 2010

Six and Eleven

I haven't worked on composition book eleven of my six-year-in-progress novel since January. Which translates into Louise hasn't worked on the novel since her grandfather (in every way but actually being my blood grandfather) passed away shortly before I was due back for spring semester last year.

Writing is a way to pull the frayed edges of myself back together. When it serves the purpose, it really helps me to relax, unwind, unload, and remind myself that I'm an optimist when it comes to life and that there is a good side to practically everything. There are certain things that are exceptions to that, but for the most part, there is a bright side. Sometimes it's tarnished and dull. Still, it's there waiting to be found if you've the right mind.

You've got to want to find it to find it when it doesn't want to be found.

I'm not like other writers. I'm not going to force myself to get something out onto paper because I haven't written in a week or two. Hell, I haven't written in ten months other than some Murphy or maybe for the blog. I've written little snippets of stuff that comes to mind, but in terms of working on the novel and progressing and finishing it - it hasn't been there. I know better than to force something that's not there and doesn't want to be. If I've got nothing, there's a good reason for it. Probably more than one, too.

In a lot of ways ending this novel will be like ending a part of myself. Never do I mean in a self-harm kind of way - I don't do that, I never have, and I never will - but I mean in a sense of a stage of my life coming to a close. We know that we're different people when we're children. There are things we grow out of to grow into, and things that stick with us through those times into the young adulthood that we all face. And there was a time six years ago, that I traded a part of myself - a part of my innocence - and I couldn't get it back. The following two years were not the easiest. Freshman year of high school, this big damned secret, the shame, the fear, and me being one of the best internalizers that I know, kept everything bottled shut.

Except for when I would write. I wouldn't write about what happened, but I figured that if I was in such a shambles - and trust me, there were days when I would sit in class and think about what had happened and half expect him to come through the damn doorway into the classroom, and then just cry - then someone else's life didn't have to be. I needed something to do, something to take my mind off of reality when it got a little too heavy. And then it just went from there, growing into something bigger and more than I had originally intended it to. I couldn't stop its growth because in a way, I was growing with it. I grew a lot in two years. In ways that most people wouldn't expect.

And I realized that maybe I'm pretty good at this whole writing thing. I used to, when I was little, stand outside with a soccer ball on a string (I cannot for the life of me remember what exactly it's called, but that's the main idea), look at the gnarled apple tree against the little runoff creek, and think what would happen if it was a house. Who would the people who lived there be. What were their names. What were they like.

A boy and his grandmother. Sometimes he had a dog. At one point he had a dragon.

Ralurick lives with his grandmother for most of The Crossing. There are mentions in the beginning - though brief - of the time when he lives with both his parents and everything is quite hunky dory. For the rest of the book, when he's not wandering with Jack through foreign countryside running from some magical creature or the villain of the book, he lives with his grandmother.

There are similarities. There have to be. I'm not good enough to keep every little bit of myself out of my own writing. The times when Ral can't really handle being emotional? Been there done that. Jack trying to figure out why exactly he was on Typrien and what he was going to do with his life, once he reached a certain age? Been there as well.

In some ways, their story is my story. And my story is theirs. It's been six years. And while part of me is quite anxious to get this over with, to end this remarkable journey that these three have come on, part of me isn't quite ready to be completely at ease with shutting the door on a part of my life that's so largely influenced who I am overall.

Maybe it's not so much shutting a door but turning to a blank page. Some of my toughest days were hashed out in those pages. The days I stayed home from school because of whooping cough are in those pages as well. My own broken love affair is scattered through Anna and Richard, Jack and Kayley, and Ralurick and Bella.

It's a lot. That's an understatement.

I've had people tell me - through the Inkpop message boards, actually, which I haven't visited in months - that the fact that I see the story I want to write as a movie in my head isn't real writing. It's copying. That I'm not creating anything. Yet I have something real and tangible in my hands. I have composition books with writing, with characters, faces, places, words, and meaning. You have this drive to have your project be number one in the lists, to be on a publisher's desk. I've got that, too. That's what I want as well. When I think it's ready.

When I've finished it.

I'm pretty decent when I've got something half-assed written. The finished product? I want you to remember me for the stories that I can tell. For the depth that I have as a writer and as a person. For what I can create.

Writing is personal for me. It's not mechanics and sentence structure. Well, it is, but it isn't. It's no the main focus. It's me taking you somewhere and you going on a ride through a bit of life that, while in places, might not be grand, but still real. Life can be glorious and big, or it can be simple. Easy and difficult.

Most important is that you don't get to decide - you get to deal.

I only get serious and slightly insightful when I've got good reason. Paying a visit to Dylan Thomas's writing shed and the boathouse where he used to live would be what spawned that because for the first time in months I wanted to write when I got back on the bus. Actually, I wanted to break the lock on the door of the shed, sit at the same desk as he did - which is still exactly how he left it - and start writing. I probably would have gotten arrested and it would have been bad manners, and I would probably be packing for New York instead of writing this, but it made me want to continue. It really made me want to finish what I had started. To continue and to gather the spread threads of this long story and weave them together. To finish the tapestry.

To finish a part of me.


Connie W said...

I love that you found some inspiration at the writing shed. What a wonderful thing for someone to have...a special place to write.

I look forward to reading your novel someday!

I Wonder Wye said...

Our writing philosophies sound about the same. I call my dragging my feet 'composting' where I think about it and out of all that shit will hopefully spring a flower of a thought or sentence. My stories are gathering dust from the spring, but editing and ghost writing while not creative for me, makes me feel i am doing something worthwhile...while I'm not...

"The difference between life and the movies is that a script has to make sense, and life doesn't."

-Joseph L. Mankiewicz