I’ve been a little absent here this week. I’d expected to be going whole-hog over my spring break, recording daily blog posts and writing with Balzac-ian intensity. But that hasn’t been the case. The week away from school was cram-packed with life away from the writing table. That isn’t to say I didn’t get any writing work done, but much of it was tempered by my own responsibilities to family and home, by the events happening around the globe and the attention I devoted to them, and by the same battles I always go through when thinking about writing. Here are some writing related thoughts from the past week:
My third novel manuscript, The Aurora Project, starts with a great flood. I began the work right after the 2004 tsunami. I thought a lot about this during the week as I watched the unfolding story in Japan. As far as hopeful novels concerning the apocalypse, I still think I’ve written something I’ve not seen before. Four sections divided by two thousand years (about 200 hundred generations), each concerned with a different epoch of human renaissance. I was telling my wife about the structure of my new manuscript the other night and she asked me if “I was skipping two thousand years between any of the sections.” I said, “Apparently, people don’t like that sort of gaps in their stories, so I’m sticking to more traditional time structures.”
My first novel manuscript, Body of Water, might have salvageable sections. I was talking with Sarah Braunstein about her first novel, The Sweet Relief of Missing Children, and although I’ve long considered my first manuscript to be a failed practice novel, our conversation about her work compelled me to look again at my early attempt to write a story about a missing child. Although much of the manuscript is overwrought and abstract, I think with a good dose of scalpel work, it might be pared down to a trim, hard-hitting novella. And if that manuscript is salvageable, I think my second manuscript deserves another look, too. I’ve always believed Ghost Light is a novel that deserves a home, too.
The stories that I wrote over last summer are really coming together. They all need a bit of work, but I’m really enjoying the places those stories go. I’ve recorded some stories aloud recently and posted the videos online (both at YouTube and here on this website). I’ve recorded by older stories and the stories I wrote last summer, and I can tell the difference. My writing has improved dramatically. At this rate, by the time I’m eighty or so, I’ll really be killing it.
The zombie book is finally taking shape. I can’t speak of it too much for fear of writing away whatever mysterious generating core that is feeding the idea. But I’m trying to write, for once, something people might want to read. So I’ve got the zombies (although no one calls them zombies in my book) and I’ve got my characters and I’ve read up on plot (always my weak point) and I set out to write this page-turner type story. So far, I think it’s working, although I can see that I’m incapable of writing something strictly for page-turner-qualities alone. The plot moves, certainly, but I’m also the writer I am. I emailed an agent that once represented me and described the manuscript as a literary-zombie-thriller, which seems to be exactly what my brain in conjuring. I’ve been taking notes on the book and trying to imagine the characters for several months now. This week, I started putting some of this down on the page. I’ve started writing. My goal is to have a handwritten draft by the end of June, when my family and I are heading to London and France for quick European vacation. That way, for the rest of the summer, I’ll be able to type and revise and sell this darn thing. This is the book that will make me famous and get me enough money that I can buy my own private island, which has been my stated goal all along.
And that’s where my spring break went.