Friday, February 10, 2012

Sown and Sewn, Part V: The Halfway Point

Everything in life, so it seems to me can be divided up in the first half and the second. It's also been of notice to me that the second half always goes faster than the first. For instance, when moving, loading takes longer than unloading. The first half of that bottle of gin is grueling, and the second half vanishes too quickly. With notebooks, the first 100 pages takes twice as long as the second 100. I wonder if life is the same way? If I'm 39 now and the average age for modern American men is 78, will this last half go by faster? Good things to think about as I've made my way through to the halfway point of The Errors of Fabric.

This novel is moving as swiftly as the former ones, this is true. It feels good.
A few things I came up with:
First, when I think of this Sown and Sewn series, especially as a weekly progress report, it feels wrong. To keep a journal is one thing, keeping journals I understand, but to keep a novel's journal, I just don't know what I'm doing.
During this first half, yes, okay, good. “I have this,” “I need that,” “I'm starting over,” these sorts of entries seem appropriate. These are the mechanical questions and answers and it really is about the process. It is a progress report. I hit 25,000 words this week and will tell this story in 50,000. Halfway.
Second, I would really have to add something at the end of each of my sessions to get a the full spectrum of real feelings behind this work. For instance, I had a great day on Wednesday. I really learned about Claire and Naomi and their relationship. I also learned about Frank's chess techniques of pinball chaos. In short, Wednesday was a great day: it was great for writing and I got a lot done. Thursday? I blew off work outright. I didn't touch The Errors of Fabric. I shirked my Umbrella Factory Magazine duties. I took a drive to Boring, Oregon to look at Army surplus gear. If Wednesday was a high, Thursday was a low.
I think that writing is very similar to physical fitness. Daily commitment yields results. If I have too many days like Thursday, especially in a row, I'm fucked. But yesterday, I just wasn't interested. I went to Boring, Oregon which for me was both geographical and mental.
Third, I'm about to enter into a very tricky stage in the story. For instance, what the hell happened to Terri Winchell Watts from early 1994 until now? The Terri character is a composite of every dirty, drug addled, brain trauma victim, homeless person I've ever known. He's one guy in particular who I used to see on the streets of Denver. When he died, The Denver Post researched him a little. He was a sad tragic soul. But the Terri character is many homeless people I've known. No, I don't have a particularly high regard for homelessness or the issues around it. I'm not making a homeless statement. Although given my time, now, and current events, the Occupy Movement, perhaps I am influenced.
Last, when it comes to Terri, I many need to do a little research. What happens to these homeless people? How do they escape the system or what happens to them when they die? I've considered talking to people who specialize in this. I have found experts help to clarify possibilities and a consultation can produce new thought. I consulted my friend Holly when I was writing Dysphoric Notions because I wanted to know how long it would take a body to decompose in cold running water. She worked at the morgue at the time. I've also chatted, briefly, with my social worker friend Kartika about what social workers for with troubled street kids. I've sought advice on how to purchase a new identity from those who have illegally purchased cards. I worked with a student of German as I wrote From Ansbach to Color. I've researched careers in finance, methods of cooking doughnuts; maps, Latin and the physiological effects of over consumption and starvation. In short, I will, and I encourage all writers, to write about what we don't know. If you're as inquisitive as I am, you'll learn a great deal from research. When talking to others, avoid telling them too much and don't get solicited to write their story. It's easy to listen to anecdote after anecdote, but do not forget your story. Your story takes priority in your mind and in your energies.
Here we are, my characters and me. It's the end of week 3. I'm at 25,000 words for 125 pages. Today, day 22, things get back on schedule.

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