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Genesis of a Historical Novel

Thursday, October 27, 2005

strolling through chapter 19 and my neighborhood

A somewhat troubled night. I rose at around 3:20 to fetch a whisky and drink it in the dark. Drifted off again at around 5:00. When I revived at about 7:00, Kimmie was getting up. She made the coffee this morning, and even brought me a mug down here in my office. Lovely! Now that's living.

I opened up chapter 19 and kept tinkering with the early part. No two chapters are alike in how they develop, how they're written. This one is challenging me to understand the real nature of Menahem's story. As I devise events to happen to him, I also need to discover the significance of these events, and how he interprets them relative to his life and beliefs. It's surprisingly hard. And I have to weave the results into the existing draft: adding, replacing, revising.

But we're in vacation mode, so I'm going easy on myself in terms of demanding productivity. If I get anything done, I treat it as a bonus. Feels good! I've got to page 17 of the chapter this way.

Kimmie and I went out into the morning sun, picking up Halloween materials at Michael's Crafts (fake black curly hair; colored color-flow icing), dropping the car at T. F. & T. Automotive for servicing, and walking up past the construction on Esplanade to Moodyville's Cafe for breakfast. Sun streamed in the large picture-window facing Lonsdale: the window was streaky, and someone had scratched crude graffiti letters into the glass. My pancakes were excellent.

Next: we walked up Chesterfield, passing more construction in the building-blitz of Lower Lonsdale, pausing at the bunkerlike decommissioned government liquor store on 2nd Street to look at an art mural on the blank cinderblock of its west wall: a copy of Dejeuner sur L'Herbe by Manet. The nude model had been clothed in a crude wetsuit of orange with black stripes. The wall-sized image had been created on a plastic material and then pasted to the building. I explained what I knew of the original painting to Kimmie, and we headed up to the North Vancouver Archives, which Kimmie would like to visit as part of her vacation itinerary. But small schoolchildren were being crammed into the place, so we skipped it and continued uphill to look at the progress of demolition of the old apartments at 6th and Chesterfield. Apparently built in the 1950s, with fireplaces and a central outdoor swimming pool, these two buildings finished their days as subsidized housing. Now the south building has been leveled to splinters. Workmen were going through the north building, ripping the aluminum frames out of the windows. The wrought-iron railings are already gone.

Then: home. Kimmie had icing witches to pipe and so on. Next up: my niece Chella is due to stop by to pick one of Kimmie's homemade Halloween costumes to wear to a party on Saturday. There are now quite a few to choose from: angel, harem girl, vampire, cowgirl, Playboy bunny, and a few more--all sexed-up. What will Chella choose?

Teatime. Off to read more of A History of Warfare.

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