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Genesis of a Historical Novel

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

finishing gracelessly

Well, yesterday I finished drafting chapter 28 in a final push, while power-washers ran their gasoline compressor right outside my office window and while a fire inspector troubled me to get him into our common garage to check for fire extinguishers and exit signs (and borrow my stepladder). I wore earplugs and pushed on between the interruptions.

In a way, interruptions are helpful. Why? Because they lower my expectations of myself--not unlike when I'm sick. When circumstances are unfavorable for writing, anything I get done is gravy. The pressure (self-imposed) is off, and I can just write freely--well, sort of. There is a feeling of assertiveness and pride in working through the distractions, a feeling of achievement--"they're trying to stop me; well, I won't let them."

In that frame of mind I wrote the final 5 pages, finishing on page 38. Two or three chapters ago, when I sent a newly drafted chapter to Warren in Chicago, he commented that it terminated rather abruptly. Yes, no doubt it did; and no doubt chapter 28 does as well. It's like those Olympic long-distance races, like the marathon. A runner, having given it his all, moves across the finish line and then just collapses. He doesn't walk off the run, as you're supposed to, cooling down and letting the body adjust to having the load removed from it. No, there's nothing left. The body's "cooling down" energy was spent somewhere back there on the track. The race ends not in a graceful walk, but in a graceless, exhausted collapse.

As I'm typing the last paragraphs, the last sentences, I think, "Can I get out of here yet?" No, still need to say x and y... But at some point I think, "Yes, I can get out of here, there's nothing that must be said any further." Then it's a matter of hitting CTRL+S to save it and opening up my spreadsheet to log it as done.

I am outta here!


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2 Comments:

  • Congratulations on pushing through the chapter.

    I enjoyed the "write fast" post--while working on this project back in early March, I was pushing ahead full steam... Unfortunately, I got about 50 pages in and realized it was crap. However, it was the way I started the story, not just the prose, I think, that did it in for me.

    I started over.

    I'm going slower now... though on some days, I feel the need to just kick it in and move, otherwise I might wallow in the backwater too long.

    Good luck on the next chapter.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at June 06, 2007 8:24 PM  

  • Many thanks, anon, for stopping by. I feel like a bit of a fraud talking about speed, since I'm not fast at anything, except maybe certain kinds of thinking--and then maybe I'm kidding myself. I think for me it's more like an "unblocked" attitude: how would you tell it if you had to tell this scene urgently, quickly, to someone?

    By Blogger paulv, at June 06, 2007 10:13 PM  

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