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Archive for March, 2014

Dear –

This is interesting. If I go straight to my blog and begin a new draft, I have a greater chance of posting what I’ve written than if I’d started in a separate document with the intention of posting it later. I also have a greater chance of finishing it. This kind of post, anyway – this diary.

I’ve had a hard time getting started on 5-GULCH today. Maybe it’s time for a break. Except I really want to work. And once I get started I’m usually fine.

I think yesterday’s straight-up-the-mountain hike caught up with me after all. We went on another walk today, and all afternoon I’ve had this sick, deadened feeling, like I’ve been hollowed out and my insides flung to the birds. And when I’m tired, sometimes it’s harder to slog through the psychic debris. Work’s probably the best thing I could do right now. Concentrating on something. Then sleeping.

 

10 p.m.

Worked through earlier scenes – cleaning, fleshing out. It was a good way to spend the night. Tomorrow I’ll decide what to do with a particularly surreal scene that doesn’t seem to fit, in tone, with the rest of the book. It might be a matter of thinning out the details rather than removing the scene completely.

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Dear –

I’m happy with what I’ve written today. Ryan and I got out early and went on a long hike up the mountain. We pushed ourselves, but not too hard. My body feels light and my brain’s clear. I feel like I’ve been soaking in a mineral pool.

It began raining while I was at the grocery store this afternoon. I sat out in the parking lot in my car for several minutes, talking to my mom on speaker-phone (I don’t like the vibrations of the cell phone against my ear). A woman walking into the store looked over her shoulder at me several times. About ten minutes later she was at my window, looking in. Somehow she’d left the store without me noticing and had come up from behind my car. She left before I could turn on my battery and roll down the window. She kept looking over her shoulder as she walked away. She didn’t wave or smile. Maybe she thought I’d been kidnapped. I was wearing a hat and big sunglasses on a cloudy day. My eyes still burned from this morning, when it was sunny, and the light bounced up from the snow and blazed straight through my sunglasses. Maybe she’d thought I was a friend. But she didn’t seem friendly.

At home, Ryan and I stir-fried round steak from my parents’ ranch with several pounds of vegetables, including three jalapenos. He went to his garage to work and I went to my office. I read Amy Hempel and typed up my writing from yesterday,cutting and expanding. I felt like I hit the right language and pacing: simple, unhurried. I’ll try to remember how this feels. Ryan made a chair.

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Dear –

Since it’s warmed up, I don’t feel bad about opening up my office, which we kept closed to save energy during the Long Cold Time. Sometimes I miss my second-floor lair at the old place (I like being up and seeing things), but it’s no big loss – I’m not giving up any real view, staring at the faces of identical condo buildings. We have a backyard now. We share it with our neighbors, but still. I can look out at it. Green space.

I did get some ideas last night after all, watching documentaries about killer whales and mountain climbing. Dialogue. And I’m trying to think of Bugbee – serving the truth instead of claiming it.

3 p.m.

Returned to the notebook, Wrote a few new scenes, got to the dialogue I wanted. Tried to slow myself down. Used all of my brain today.

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Dear –

When I write by hand, I make notes alongside the text to keep track of what I’m doing. It’s natural—and to some extent, useful—to analyze your work as you go along (to some extent, not). I wrote long-hand exclusively for a little over a month. Now I’m back at the word processor, reading over what I’ve got so far. I’ve been working on a novel, 5-GULCH, for almost a year now, and I can feel things gathering, though I have no idea what’s going to happen. These days when I read it over I feel pretty good about it, but today I’m not so sure, so I’m writing this instead. It’s sort of a diary. Emerson said that when he got stuck, he’d write a long letter to someone he loved. So I’ll write to you, Dear—the ten or so people I carry around in my head.

It’s 11 am, and Ryan’s just come home from work. Soon we’ll eat and go on a walk, and I’ll write this afternoon. That’s been my schedule, writing afternoons and evenings. Ryan says there are elk on the ridge, you can see them from the road. I’m slow to move today. Bad cramps (my period) all night, back again this morning, no appetite, but I’ll eat, and we’ll go.

I don’t think I’ll look for jobs today. It’s getting me down, blocking my work. Of course, I’ll need a job to keep working, but at this point looking for what isn’t there, or what I’m not willing to do, isn’t helping. I’ve tried making the most of this latest period (ha) of unemployment, but I haven’t written nearly as much as I’d be able to with no job and no worries. Also, I’ve pursued several false leads on jobs, and this is demoralizing, the longer it goes on. I just want a job. A normal job, with normal people, where you get paid in the normal ways.

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Cooking has helped. Walking. I’m trying to start a fiction critique group after attending meetings by the other writing groups in town and deciding they weren’t for me. This is a good distraction. Signing up for Bountiful Baskets. Writing things on the calendar. In a few days I’m going to a writing conference (more money spent, but well-spent, I hope). Sending stories out. I heard back from one publisher regarding my story collection—he said my stories were good, but they were no longer willing to take risks on writers who lacked a well-published body of work. He was sure I wouldn’t have trouble placing my stories in some high-profile magazines. It’s true I haven’t tried as hard as I should have, but I do doubt this very much. Anyway, he was nice, and I thanked him. Now I’m certain the larger publisher will also turn me down. They’ve had my stories since July. I’ll keep sending stories out. It doesn’t take much time, and lately I’ve felt a “reject’s high” when I get those “Your story isn’t for us” emails. Good. Good.

Reading. Watching documentaries. I’ve pulled away from social media (other than Twitter, which takes little energy to keep up with), and may have to cut the plug on Netflix, as well. It’s warmer; I can sit outside. I should learn something new. I should clean up our yard. Someday I’d like to keep bees. That’s what I think, looking out the window.

8 p.m.

Walk’s over. Writing’s ending. Ryan’s gone back to work. He’ll fly in for the weekend tomorrow morning.

I’m happier with what I’ve written than I was earlier today; the walk helped. I’ve imagined a series of events, but I may need to tighten my focus. I need to keep going over what I’ve already written; it needs to be unhurried. I’ll keep the book on my mind for the rest of the night and the next transition may come to me by tomorrow. I need to plod.

 

 

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