1. Transcribing longhand to the computer is tougher than one might expect.
2. I received five rejections in the last week, four on one day.
3. I don’t believe that all literary reviews treat all submissions the same.
4. Several of my rejections came mere days after sending out the story, which I find fishy.
5. Those who staff the literary reviews and journals have a tough job, admittedly.
6. In my fiction class this week, we discussed Raymond Carver’s beautiful short story, “A Small Good Thing.” My students had thoughtful reactions to the work. Next week, we are reading Joyce Carol Oates. If they thought Carver was dark, wait till they walk into the story-world of “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been.”
7. I’m have about thirty-five more pages of my longhand manuscript to transcribe before I can say I have a typed first draft of the novel on which I’ve been working.
8. There are four parts to the novel. The first three are fairly “clean”—they need work, but they are readable and have little by way of continuity issues.
9. Part four needs lots and lots of heavy lifting. It’s taken me so long to write this section, that the opening feels mightily disconnected from the closing. All part of the process.
10. Once I clean up the fourth part, attach it to the first three, I will have something workable.
11. Once all four parts are together, a new round of serious revisions will be in order. This novel depends of interlocking images and themes.
12. I’ll be reading the first eight pages of this manuscript next month at River Run Bookstore. For more information about the reading, please check the “News” section of my site.
13. I am now reading The Guermantes Way, volume three of Marcel Proust’s massive novel, In Search of Lost Time. Although it is tough reading—slow reading—reading that requires a lot of patience—I am drawn to it and have vowed to finish the novel. There is no other author that I can think of that can so fully explore the smallest moments, who can so imbue the insignificant with purpose. In fact, I don’t think there are any really insignificant moments in Proust, not so far.
14. I’ve struggled to write this week—though I have written much. I’ve been in transcription mode and it’s hard to convince myself that I am writing. But my story is growing, so I must be doing something right….
15. It is very difficult to let story rejections go. All I can do it send the stories out again. All I can do is present myself at the table and believe that my best writing is ahead of me, not behind me. I talk about this Walt Whitman quote all the time: “All goes onward and outward, nothing collapses.” He is talking about death, but it applies to nearly everything. Everything is extending forward, never backward. It is easy to forget how much effort the writing life requires. It is hard to remember that I must move forward, and that persistence is key.
16. Next week, my daughter turns ten. Tonight, we are going to the town father/daughter dance. I’ve been reading to her class, and next week I’ll begin doing writing exercises.
17. I’ve just found out that I won’t be teaching a fiction class this summer. They decided against offering the class. That is a paycheck that I will miss. But, on the other hand, I will have more time to write, to work on the house, to do silly summer things with Grace, to watch the Tour de France, to read, to take advantage of my non-tenure track position. I don’t have security, and little hope for advancement, but I do get crazy vacation months. I think I can have a polished version of my novel by the end of July.
18. Once, years ago, an agent believed in my first novel enough to take me on as a client. Although she couldn’t find a buyer (Thankfully! The novel is horrible…) and we parted ways, she is willing to look at the new book, once I have a polished draft.
19. My goal is to finish this book, get it to this agent, and see what happens. The novel is strange enough that I think someone might be interested.
20. I know what you are thinking: Clark, the first chapter of this novel is what won you the artist’s fellowship… what in the world is it about?
21. Well, I can’t really tell you…other than to say that it takes place over six thousand years and is concerned with humankind’s renaissance.
22. Is it science fiction?
23. I wouldn’t call it that…but I don’t mind the label. I think of it more as creation myth. Or fabulistic story-telling.
24. Oooo… tell us more…
25. It all started with water….(to be continued next week).