working on part 1 of talassio this weekend, while “julie” simmers. a good feeling, to be back in this world yet again. i needed the break, but i needed the return more.
this spring has been something of a rollercoaster. lots of ups and downs, and then everything coming to a halt while we had family visiting. it was a lovely visit, but a lot of work before and during; that i am sitting here now in a quiet house, with only a few appointments to meet over the next couple of days, feels positively luxurious.
all of which means it’s time to get back in the saddle again. i have slept poorly these last few weeks; i think i can take it as a given now that i need to write every day, even if it’s just fiddling with something that’s already been written. last night i did just that, reading over old words and tweaking stuff that might never see the light of day—in other words, easing back into it all. and i slept well for the first time since late april.
klüpfel’s girl has two glaring problems that must be addressed. i have had a suggestion for talassio that might nudge me to begin the rewrite sooner rather than later. italy is coming. and i am well overdue to take all my notes on the queen of lakes, get out the scissors, and spend a day looking at its basic structure.
this difficult spring has also taught me two valuable lessons about my process, which i wish i had learned a long time ago . . . well. better late than never, always.
the first lesson is that my first drafts tend to come out in a distant third that lets me figure out the shape of the story, but is really more of a map for me, not the thing itself; what i used to take for a nearly-finished product is nothing more than a detailed framework, and i have to accept that those first weeks/months are never going to give me more than the structure and maybe the first glimmer of the voice.
the second lesson is perhaps an extension of the first, and it’s a lesson derived from getting pursuit published at last: the overall process is long, and i have to accept that as well. i wrote pursuit over a year ago, in a rush of inspiration, and fiddled with it and worked on it for a few months. i workshopped it in august/september. i revised it, i started submitting it, and i revised it again in part due to some feedback i got from a couple of editors. the story that interzone accepted is very different from the story i workshopped and vastly different from that first rough draft, and by the end i had worked through all my love for it; i care about it still but it’s a more distant, nostalgic affection now. that whole arc, of writing and rewriting, submitting and rewriting again, of slowly feeling that first rush of infatuation ebbing away . . . that is the process, that is what i must anticipate with each story, that is what i cannot rush no matter how impatient i feel.
hard lessons in a hard spring.
It’s time. Venice, Milan, Talassio. I have a growing list and I am already preparing to grovel at the Maritime Museum in Venice for some inside access.
This project is, hands down, the strangest thing that’s ever happened to me. I constantly feel both blessed and stymied, schizophrenic and divinely clear, overwhelmed and in control, productive and frustrated. I can feel like I am writing the greatest work of my life to date in one moment, and utter dreck the next. And I have been like this for 2+ years now.
This morning, I was pricing flights and I thought to myself, if this fails I won’t be able to look anyone in the eye, least of all myself. And then I thought, but it’s already happening; the real failure would have been if I just threw out those first three months of work, or shoved it in a drawer. All this is already gravy.
Now I just have to hold on to the latter, and look myself in the eye each morning.
Italy, here we come.