Thursday, March 08, 2012

Writing Life: Thoughts on "Back to 'Bird by Bird'"

In 2007, I wrote a post called "Back to 'Bird by Bird'" which described my feelings about struggling with my writing especially what to do with the first draft of my historical novel and a lecture I attended with Anne Lamott, who wrote "Bird by Bird," a classic book on writing.  A friend of mine mentioned that he read the post the other day.

Reading it now makes me smile.  That was over four years ago.  I can't believe all that's happened in these last four years.  I'm now on the third official draft of my historical novel.  I'm home sick today and spent some time reviewing all the chapters I'd thrown together, eliminating the ones that definitely did not belong, and noting ones that only had one sentence (placeholder chapters, really!), and compiled the document into Word.  It's now over 88,000 words or 237 single-spaced Word pages.

The story has taken on a gigantic life of its own with at least two viable backstories which are both over 70 pages long (not currently included with the Word document), and a couple of secondary characters who keep insisting on running away with their own story.  Those boys need to pipe down and wait their turn.

And I went to Europe in 2010 and researched the story setting when I visited Nuremberg.  You know, if you had told me I was going to lose my job soon after I came back to that trip, I may have thought twice about going but I'm glad those guys didn't tell me because it's going to be a long time before I can do any significant travel.  I'm so grateful I got to go there once.  I would love to go back in December but I don't see how that's possible.

Anyway, I burned through my (new) black ink cartridge printing out my hard copy of the novel.  No matter, there's more where that came from.  Serious revision is going to begin to turn this bad boy into the real deal and I'm really looking forward to it.

It surprises me to say this but I feel so much more comfortable with myself in general.  I think about that time in 2007 when I was laid off, and about that time in 2010 right after I came back from that trip.  My situation is still far from stable but I feel very sure of myself, my writing, and my ability to take this story where I want it to go.  It's very odd to realize this for the first time as I'm writing this post.

It's a bit like realizing you have an idea of what you're capable of, and that you don't have to be at the mercy of whatever is being thrown at you all the time.  I'm not saying shit isn't going to get thrown at me, it happens, but I know there are some areas of my life that will still remain under my own control.

It's good to be back on the blog, people.  I hope you are all doing great.  More later.


MarcTurtle said...

Thanks for the update, MT. Stay focused and keep burning the midnight cartridge!

T. Z. Wallace said...

YOU GO GIRL!!! Sounds like you are finding some peace.