Thursday, July 28, 2011
Sometimes when I'm writing on my novel, it starts talking back at me.
Novels aren't supposed to do that, of course. They're supposed to do what the author says. Novels should lie down, close their eyes, and think of England, but sometimes you come across a text that wants to put you in your place.
I've been writing on such a novel for two and a half years, and sometimes we cuddle like teddy bears; other times we tear each others hair out like congressmen in DC.
"Don't you think I know what I'm doing?" I shout at my novel when it refuses to cooperate. I tell it about my past accomplishments: my French literary award, my blurbs from world class authors, my book readings in New York and Bramminge ... but my novel couldn't care less. It doesn't bother with my ego and my wet dreams. It just wants me to pay attention, stare into a mountain lake, and shut the fuck up.
"I don't want to be written by a word slut. I want to be written by a high flying bird," my novel says and leaves me in a desert of adverbs.
Then I beat my head against the wall and continue to write, but nothing happens. The only thing that pops up is My Old Bag of Tricks, and I'm not that interested in them anymore. I can use those on Facebook, Twitter, and other bathroom walls.
Frankly, I get a little scared as well. What if my novel finds another writer to work with? You can't take for granted it will stay with me. Maybe it latches on to a different dreamer? Literature doesn't want to be a prisoner; it detests shiny time managers and ridiculous word counts.
So now I got it; now I've finally learned.
My novel and my muse ganged up on me one night in May, and let's just say they won. I've slowed down now. I take walks in lush forests and listen to porcupines rubbing bellies. I admire bluebirds spreading their wings and count mosquitoes on sun soaked meadows. Like any decent novelist, I've been forced to tone down My Word Slut and get in stronger contact with My High Flying Bird. They work well together as long as I don't eat too much fried food.
So when will my thirteenth novel be out, you may want to ask?
Well, earlier this year I thought I'd finished it. Now, of course, I know it isn't true. I could be done in three months or in three years - who's to say? But one day I pray that the novel will be kind enough to tell me.