Dear July, twelve & thirteen: one paragraph at a time.

Tuesday, 14 July 2015


Dear July,

Some days it can feel like I’m writing this novel with a pen inked with molasses. Words and ideas come out slow and sticky and I have to drag the pen across the page to get anything half-decent down. Yesterday was one of those days. Everything came out as: cliché, or ‘too introspective’, or ‘telling too much’, or ‘too many adjectives’ or sentences kept getting cluttered with excessive use of the word ‘I’ (one of the pitfalls of a first-person narrator).


For the chapter I'm working on, I was trying to write about the feeling of waking up after falling asleep, exhausted, in the middle of the day. That foggy space – between sleeping and being properly awake – when you open your eyes, lying completely still, vaguely aware that something has happened, something is wrong, something big – but you’re not quite conscious enough yet to remember what that is. All you have is the physical feeling - a heaviness behind your eyes, a dryness in your throat - of a half-remembered sadness


I was trying to capture that feeling without being heavy-handed (because the feeling itself is subtle. Like the intake of breath before a plate smashes...). I don't think I quite managed it though (and that description up there doesn't really capture it either). I wrote all day – about this, and other things – and at the end of the day, out of all the words, all there was one good paragraph.

The thing about writing a novel – and writing a novel for your job (and I think I can call it my job just now, can’t I? I’m doing it as part of my PhD, full-time. I’m getting a scholarship to do it. I even have a kind of office space that I work in) – the thing about it is you can’t just sit about waiting to be inspired if you’re going to get anywhere. And you can’t just pack it in when the ideas aren’t coming easily. You need to keep sitting down and ‘keep showing up’. Good days and bad days. Some days lots of words come. Other days: molasses.


But one good paragraph. Even if the rest goes in the bin, I wrote one good paragraph. (Remember that. ‘It is enough’.) I can build on that today.


Notes

Sunday's poem: 'What the Dog Perhaps Hears' by Lisel Mueller

Monday's poem: three poems about walking on the moon by Clarissa Pinkola Estes that I can't find online (but they're in the talks: 'Theatre of the Imagination')

Pictures by: Marc Johns (because it's been a while).

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