Tuesday, November 22, 2011


For the last couple of weeks, I've been waiting to start an at-home job, one which I hoped would solve several of our problems at once. But my start date was delayed, and then delayed again, and then delayed a third and fourth time. So I started to worry, like crazy, that in fact it wasn't going to work out, that I would have to return to the outside world and legal work. But I got some solid data about it yesterday: yes, I was actually hired; yes, the work does exist (even if it doesn't really exist this week). There is a big IT transition going on, which is the reason for all the delays, and that means that there might not be much to be paid for in the first couple of weeks. But it seems real enough, the job and my ability to do it. I think - I hope - that it's going to work out all right. There are things about it that aren't as...solution-oriented as I thought they would be, but I'm going to hope for the best. This is the third time this year that things have turned around at my blackest point of despair, and each time was accompanied by a spate of new ideas and greater hope for the future.

In other phew-related news, I did a complete read-through and first skinning of the novel. (It took me about seven hours, all told, which is not encouraging moving forward.) Oh, my dear Lord, what work I have to do. I have to rewrite and rework the whole opening, two or three chapters, and I suspect I'm going to end up adding another quarter of its length to the danged thing in new scenes and greater depth. But inconsistencies were helpfully apparent on this read, and I wrote them all down in the margins with my red pen, making notes on the backs of pages. Now it's on to write a detailed timeline and adjustment of ages, events, and spacing as needed. I also have to come up with a few more names and vocabulary, and start writing a sensible Luquenora glossary. I had suspected that I'd need to put an actual glossary in the back of the book, and yeah, on this read I determined that I do. Feels kind of like a failure, that I didn't make the language clear enough. Oh, well.

Yesterday I finished up editing a story I'd written and submitted it to a publication that's probably way over its head. (I made up my mind to reach for better publications in the future, to just grip writerly arrogance by the neck and continually presume I'm better than I am, so that eventually I'll become better. ...I think I'll write a whole post on this conflict another time.) The story was inspired by something in yoga class, as I mentioned a while back, but what's interesting to me is that the story in its finished form has no reference at all to its inspiration.

I was lying in savasana and the teacher came to give me a little thai-massage head-rub, and I used my neck muscles to "help him" lift my head. This is not helpful to the masseuse, as he needs you to be untense to give you a decent massage, and he whispered "Relax."

This gave me the idea for a story about a woman in this exact position whose reception of "Relax" was to remember a date-rapist whispering this to her as he did the deed. (Am I the cheeriest writer you know, or what?) After I thought through the story a few times, it became a man with this memory, and then I added some other elements and had a pretty good setup and conflict, I thought. I still had the yoga class in there as a framing device for the first few drafts, but when I came back to the story a few days later, it didn't fit. At all. Just cluttered up the raw experience of this poor character. I wanted to add more about him and his situation, but I wasn't writing a novel, just a little story, so all the fat got excised.

It's still really interesting to me that all elements relating to the inspiration for the story got tossed. I'm pleased with my results, but where it came from would be really convoluted, were I asked to explain.

I've been listening to Joanna Newsom almost exclusively for the last 24 hours, while I read and edited and worried over my new job. She has this strange ability to make you forget that there are other kinds of music than her own. Her music is so indubitably odd that you wouldn't think she'd have this quality. But it all seems so normal after a few spins, the harp, the voice, the symphonic construction, the appallingly poetic lyrics. What would you even need an electric guitar for?

No comments: