Thursday, December 29, 2011


So now that I'm fully engaged in the waiting game, I'm not too sure what to do with myself. "Work" for money is not really happening at this time aside from teaching, so I have a lot of time to fill during the day. I watched all of my Christmas present from Matt, all 19 blessed episodes of My So-Called Life, which was actually better than I thought it was at 13, for completely different reasons. (Although Jordan Catalano was no less attractive. God above, that boy.) I found myself surprised at the writing influence of that show; the first few episodes reminded me of the way The Sopranos is written, the sort of psychic circularity of certain concepts (remember the ducks? like that), and the extreme character delving that's done. The last several reminded me of Buffy, what little Buffy I've seen. But now that I've marathoned those 14 or so hours of TV in three days, I'm twiddling my thumbs a little bit. Matt's brother gave me the MST3K Gamera collection for Christmas, but believe me, a little Gamera goes a long way.

The obvious thing is to write. I do have this horror novel that I've been nursing for a few years, but as I mentioned the last time we were together, I'm very uncertain about its direction. I forced a few paragraphs out beyond what I had written the last time I left off, but when I think of it, I feel unsure that I can make it novel-length, that I can fix its major flaws (too much dialogue, not enough events, I like my main character less than my supporting ones), that I seem to have this really obvious pattern for how I write books that isn't necessarily a good way to write books and I'm doing it again and I'm not sure about it. Namely, this is the second book I've done serious work on that has a long section of another piece of media. In the Greenland book, it's a few thousand words of fictional history from the fourteenth century as told by one of my main characters, and in the horror book it's not quite ten thousand words (with no immediate end; I'm still writing it and don't know whether or when to end it) of a diary kept by the antagonist. I don't exactly know where I'm headed and can't gauge if where I've been is any good. Major revisions will be necessary. Whine whine uncertainty whine.

There are a lot of things I'm worried about with this project. This makes it no different, really, than the Greenland book, but for some reason my doubt is no less potent considering I already made it through this process with what I consider moderate success. I wasn't really sure I'd finish the Greenland book and I did; I felt the same "I have no PLOT" panic about that book and I came up with some. Why can't I ditch the insecurity?

Apart from all that, the main reason I haven't really gotten down to business on this horror book, not really, is that I feel like it's too soon to walk away from the Greenland book and head onto another project. I don't know what's giving me this feeling, because I'm not tired, or missing the urge to write, or blocked, or anything like that. It's like swimming; when you're a kid your parents yell and scream endlessly (or at least mine did) about not swimming at any time less than half an hour after you eat. When you grow up, you're better able to judge when you're too full to comfortably swim, or whether it's safe enough (supervised pool, etc.) to take the risk and swim anyway. But you still retain this little yelling voice inside that says no, no, no, don't swim, you'll get a cramp and diiiiiiie!

The conventional wisdom would seem to be that diving back into the waters of another novel so soon after finishing all the work it's possible to do at the moment on the just-done novel is simply a bad idea. Too much Greenland residue, my brain should be plumb wore out, if I get heavily into the horror novel I won't be able to revise Greenland effectively. Some such things. But I honestly don't know what else to do; I don't have any significant ideas for short stories, I have one for an essay but I don't think it's ready yet, I'm not interested in taking any continuing ed classes, and at the moment there are long stretches of every weekday that are unfilled. To plug the space with Netflix feels like I'm not doing my part for the household.

Until my readers get back to me with suggestions (and oh, will Matt be happy when they do - I've already asked him what he thinks they think of it about 400 times when I know that in all probability no one has cracked the spine yet, figuratively or literally), what I can do with my chosen profession during these days is, um, do it. Write. I just can't get rid of the little voice that calls it unwise.

What do you, the viewers at home, think? 

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