Monday, May 14, 2012

Sown and Sewn: The Last Stitch

In an absolute fit of urgency, I finally finished The Errors of Fabric. There was no real ceremony on the completion of this project. Perhaps because I know there will be a grip of work to do on it, should I ever open it up again. Needless to say, it's done (at least for now). The last keystroke occurred at about 1:30 a.m. on April 26th. The whole thing ended with some very prophetic words: “Tomorrow will be a better day.”

Earlier in that day, I decided that I wanted to see the very beginnings of this manuscript. The word processor I use is kind enough to give me some stats on each file. Sure, there is word count, number of paragraphs, etc. It also gives me the number of revisions and the total editing hours. Without giving you the totals here, let me just say it was staggering to discover how long this project has gone on. And for those who don't get how funny this counting and quantifying the act of writing is for me, no matter how much I explain it, you never will. Writing was born, of course, out of accounting. Accounting was born out of the art of business transaction. Counting and writing have been sisters from the beginning. But, as I looked at the document stats, I could not find the exact moment, the exact instant that I began this project.

On January 19, 2012, I completely threw out nearly 90% of what I had assembled. There was just too much and too little. I began anew then. Still, the question lingered, when did I start this project, even the stuff that got thrown out?

So, the best thing I could come to was my notebooks. I have been using the 9 ¾ x 7 ½ wide ruled composition notebooks for years. I date them. Again, writing and accounting? In looking through last year's notebooks, I found the beginnings of The Errors of Fabric. On July 11, 2011 “Rogues and Tramps,” began.

Here lies The Errors of Fabric:
July 11, 2011 to April 26, 2012.

I will not sugarcoat this. I cannot explain how fascinatingly sad this was to discover. I thought I began this piece in September or October, but it was months earlier. I just don't understand how it went on for so long. And what kind of masochist continues working on something that just brings frustration and pain?
And now, I just don't know what it was I was supposed to learn. Even giving it a few weeks to settle in, I just don't get it.

This leads me to the next thing: a journal of novel. I think this “Sown and Sewn,” series has been good for me, although I didn't really develop it much. If I learned anything in the process of this novel it is the merits of a journal. I never would have considered this before, but all of my former experiences were not wrought with errors of thought, challenges of work or pain like this one. I think I may use a novel's journal with subsequent projects, and I will endorse this act for others. In the whole what if, what if, what if scenario that follows a project wrap-up: what if I had started this Sown and Sewn stuff at the onset of the project in July of 2011? I wonder if I would have been more focused, more eager to work on it to completion or if things might have been easier for me to do? All good questions at the end of it all.

So, the process? Your guess is as good as mine. I woke on the morning of July 11, 2011 and drank coffee and began working on a story. In the early morning hours of April 26, 2012, I typed the last sentence.

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