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Genesis of a Historical Novel

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

chores homey and literary

Stopping down to dash off a post before heading back upstairs for my daily reading session. I have just done a quick vacuum of the main floor, washed the dishes and the kitchen floor, taken out the garbage and the compost. I also responded to a request by my neighbor Carol to let her into the parking garage, and answered a wrong-number phone call ("Hello? Is Irene there?"). I wanted to straighten the place up for the arrival of Kim's sister-in-law Ev for dinner this week.

It is a glorious spring day. There was a fresh breeze blowing out of the west as I jogged up Lonsdale to drop off a DVD (Chinatown, which we watched on Saturday night) and deposit this month's strata maintenance checks in my capacity as treasurer. The clear blue sky, slightly cloudswept, behind the sunstruck highrises, had the pristine cheerfulness of an architectural drawing. I ran in athletic shorts and a T-shirt for the first time this year.

The writing session this morning, which was in fact a note-making session, was laborious. I read through my notes of yesterday (a relatively productive day, with plenty of notes and research), highlighting the "keeper" material. Then I typed on a dateline for today, and pushed off. Today's opening note:

Possible conflict: Alexander is under pressure to acknowledge his father as dead in order to get legal benefits (inherit his stuff, take over the lease of home and store, get access maybe to Philip's savings in the bank), but psychologically can't make himself do it. He refuses to believe his father is dead until he sees the corpse--or has other irrefutable proof.

So it began. Nothing fresh seemed to come to me. I asked questions, guessed at some possible answers, all thoughts I've had for a long time. A feeling of spinning my wheels, churning mud. It's always the same: I don't know enough. Gradually I ground to a halt. When I realized I'd been staring at the screen for a few minutes without typing anything, indeed without thinking about my project, I decided to move on and have lunch.

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