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Genesis of a Historical Novel

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

panning for (fools') gold

At last, back at my post. Yes, gaps have started to appear in the formerly clocklike regularity of this blog--part of the general feeling of loss of compression that I'm undergoing.

Yesterday I reopened my Notes document and reviewed the highlighted material there, copying key highlights into a bulleted list at the bottom of the document to provide the main points I want to remember for this chapter. I felt good about the material. It reminds me of placer gold-mining: you pan who knows how much sand and silt to find little nuggets of gold, gold sand, essentially. The work is laborious and uncertain, and the results usually meager. This is the reality of your day-to-day worklife. But every once in a while you look at what you have managed to glean from the grudging silt: a lovely little jar of gold.

Reviewing my "keeper" material is a little like that. I ignore the silt in which the gold-dust was embedded, and just look at the gleaming imperishable metal itself. Somehow I have to make the writing incorporate that gold. Then I look at the chapter in progress, and my heart sinks. I've gone back and forth over the first five or six pages, dropping new things in, splitting material apart, deleting a couple of sentences. It just doesn't feel like a creative process.

So I pushed on ahead, a few words at a time, trying to set my scene, give myself a feeling for the sensory aspects of my world.

Now, either because of Blogger.com or my PC, the computer is responding very slowly, letters appearing in the Compose window only several seconds after I type them, so I'm typing blind. It's tiresome, so I'll cut this post short, and trust I'll get another one out tomorrow.



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