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Genesis of a Historical Novel

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

half-baked, halfhearted

More dreams--although not drug-induced (except for the standard wine and whisky). One had me seeing a big cardboard display advertising a book I'd written--except that my name only appeared in small print on the back, as a secondary contributor. The byline went to Mara's old friend Marilyn. She had apparently revised the book to make it acceptable, and my name was dropped. The publisher didn't care--it had a successful commercial property and didn't care where it came from. I felt outrage, an "oh no--not again" feeling, remembering my banishment from The Odyssey in 1993. As the dream went on it seemed that the credited author became the actor-comedian Wayne Brady.

What's going on? Why Wayne Brady? I last saw him a couple of days ago delivering a video clue on Jeopardy. I wondered about his career--how's it doing? I regard him as a phenomenal talent, but one who seems to be having a hard time finding a home after his brilliance on Who's Line Is It Anyway? Is this again an image of myself--genius without a home? But in this case, he's getting credit for my work.

Don't know.

Notes this morning were from The True Believer and A History of the Jewish People in the Time of Jesus Christ, which I picked up again yesterday afternoon. It's fun to read a writer of such perceptiveness and deductive power as Schurer.

Some discombobulation this morning as Kim scrambled out the door late, as usual, and then phoned to ask me to bring down her fitness gear, which she'd forgotten. It's a short drive, but there's no parking, so I had to park illegally while I rushed the thing inside and up the elevator to the locked door behind which ICBC huddles in fear of the motoring public it ostensibly serves. I found myself feeling a bit hassled as I got back to start my writing day.

Today I felt overwhelmed. I hunted through my notes looking for certain material I knew to be there--a fictitious calculation of the arrival date of the Age of Pisces as might have been made by the astronomer Hipparchus, who is credited with discovering it. Couldn't find it. I opened document after document, hunting. I wound up jotting a calculation on a sheet of notepaper beside my keyboard. This is no way to be doing this, I thought: half-baked, halfhearted. How do I get myself into these things--trying to solve historical astronomical problems as part of writing a novel?

I saw massive, half-forgotten icebergs of notes on various topics. How can I possibly even remember all these things, never mind integrate them into something? Do I even care anymore?

I gamely tried to inch closer to beginning my chapter, but today I had that cold feeling that my desire for this project could simply go out like a pilot light, and I'd have to walk away from the whole thing.


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