This is how you earn your place.
I am utterly spent. I’ve got work again tomorrow, and the three days after that, which doesn’t feel like a part time schedule. But it’s not until five, so I can sleep in a bit, and since I don’t write in the mornings it’s got to be tonight. But I am complainingly tired, like t-i-i-i-red, and we got up early this morning to knock out some housework while we had time off together (before I left for work that is) and my writing preference is to decompress as hard as possible first so as to let my mind drift off into freedomland where I can forget all the other stuff I’ve been obsessing over such as politics and the fate of the world, which is what I do in the morning instead of write, I obsess, I watch the Daily Show and grind my teeth and make complicated plans on how to fix everything and this is satisfying inasmuch it leaves me with the feeling of being an active citizen of the world. But it’s no way to go into writing. So I decompress, I clean for a while, I walk the dog or otherwise exercise a bit, play music over the speakers or make my own, unwind. Then write.
But life doesn’t want to give me that kind of time very often anymore. So if I’m ever to finish this novel it’s got to be on nights like tonight. I can stay up plenty late tonight, however long I can keep my brain from shutting down, and with a short day tomorrow I ought to be able to get some work in then, too, but then Saturday night? Can I do this after working a busy Saturday? Answer: I don’t have the luxury to ask that question anymore. There is no more time to put it off.
My previous novel I wrote in between 2005 and 2009, the bulk of it in my master’s program from 07 to 09. As the years passed I kept trying to update the references and make it current, which got to be too much to ask of successive rewrites, so I just had to decide on a time period and leave it there, which was the early 2000s, when it was okay not to have internet at home and social media wasn’t a thing and not every had a smart phone, etc. That novel couldn’t keep up, and it was barely surviving as a modern day story as it was. After this much time has passed, it’s proved itself far from timeless, and it will take a major major rewrite to render it such.
Now this novel. I don’t know how timeless it can become, but I don’t want to wait to find out. A lot of it takes place along a specific timeline over the course of the later 20th century, but the events all culminate in 2014. Maybe I can stretch that to 2015, but even that is two years ago already, and though in this novel I am specifically dating each chapter, I don’t want to get too far away from it. Five or six years from the book’s now-most events… I don’t know. I don’t know if it can hang. I don’t have the faith in it to hang. I’ve got to finish it. I’m out of time.
There is some solace in the idea of it working backwards. The second section, I’d always imagined, would be heavily centered on the previous generation of these characters, their parents and younger selves. The third section I’d imagined picking up more of the present day culmination, which used to be 2014, but maybe it will be later, maybe it will be more now now than it was now back then, if you follow me, which is to say maybe the culmination will be three years more down the line like I am and if so that might be a way of avoiding the cliched climax I’ve been dreading. Action feels cliched sometimes. I’ve been writing up to the action but not getting there. Maybe if I can can the action on the downslide, the back end of it, that will be enough to be satisfying without feeling trite.
Yeah. I like that, actually.
Okay, then. Time to get to work.
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