Friday, April 30, 2010

Unfolding the First Piece of the Map


Awake and working by 6:30 a.m. I didn't think I'd be writing/revising for a while now, but after a couple of hours of note making, I finally have a plan. I basically had to pick one layer of the story and work on it--establishing character relationships, figuring out the back story, knowing what happened in my character's lives before the story began. In the brief description of my novel to the right of this blog, there is mention of a family in decline. I'm working on that now.

Tempting, it is, to want to go to the Georgia Historical Society and research old families, see what I can find. I may do that. I want to. But I'm not writing historical fiction; the entire plot is set in 2006-2007, the era of a most recent art market boom. But a family in focus is one of longstanding Savannah residence. They are not, in any way, a suggestion or a symbol or an illusion of an actual Savannah family. So I don't want people getting confused, thinking I'm making a plot out of the So-And-So's misfortune. Not that I care what anyone thinks.

I don't. But you knew that already, didn't you?

In a couple of hours, I figured out what to change and how to make this work (at least for the next phase of this novel). I finally have a map. Now all I need is to do the work.


I set my alarm for 6:30 again but that didn't happen. Try quarter of 8. Anyways, I'm awake now and it's a quarter to 9 and all I've done is get dressed, make coffee and write this irrelevant blog post. I was supposed to get something done. After work I've got to rush home and shower and get pretty for my date. We're going to the Gallery Hop tonight.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A Cupcake and Tartt

Right now, what I need is a little pick-me-up. Sugar. Cinnamon cupcake (sponsored by Emily), organic raspberries.

I am hopefully going to have a long, productive night of working. Sometimes, when I fret about the crawling progress, I think about being in college--at art school, and remember how I would pack things into the day--eating overlapping with class and homework and how I'd switch frantically back and forth between reading and writing and so on... I was sacrificing sleep. I should sacrifice more sleep. Sleep?

I can't believe how much I don't know about my characters... This doesn't sound very promising, but I'm working on it. I should probably really know them, having written the damn thing (or, at least a draft of it) BUT like I said... I'm working on it.

Also, I need to be reading. While I let my own characters wander around in my head I flick through pages of novels that I've read and want to read again, literary gems of our time--Donna Tartt's The Little Friend in particular. I don't think I've ever read a better novel. It has everything. Character, setting, plot, suspense, theme and motif on and on. At mention of her work years ago in the classroom, one of my former professors shuttered. He said, "That is the book that almost made me stop writing," as he feared he could never write so perfectly.

Long ago I read somewhere that it took Tartt ten years (or something wild) to write this book. I was unaware of her before the publication of The Little Friend. But her debut novel, The Secret History was a sensational introduction (she was young, hooked up by undergrad buddy Bret Easton Ellis, publishers went back and forth at war over her copy, her agent, Amanda Urban, is literary royalty...) The novels are very different. I think the second one to be much better and though people complained about the wait--I'm guilty, also, of wishing her along with a third--I think it's important to note that sometimes time does make a valuable difference. If an author really spends time with a book, and lets the novel take both the writer and the reader where it needs to go... These things don't just happen over night. I'd be foolish to think my first copy was my final copy. That I could stop now, that it is finished.

Certainly not.

Although I hope it doesn't take me ten years BUT AT THE RATE I'M MOVING--"MOVING" IT JUST MIGHT.

A Course of its Own

Having only written Draft 1, and prepairing the outline for Draft 2, I feel like the novel is ready to take a course of its own. Finally. The characters are now really becoming their own characters, not reflections and guesswork of their inspirers. I see glimpses of plot, new scenes that didn't originally exist. We are wondering further and further away from the origins of inspiration. I don't fear it; I think it's good. This novel isn't about me, anyway. This book is about an artist and a family and the city of Savannah. This novel is about a painting.

There is still so much more for me to figure out. I am hoping to do some serious work on it tonight to bring these new scenes, and eventually a reconstructed outline, to life.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

--Harold Rosenberg

"At a certain moment the canvas began to appear to one American painter after another as an arena in which to act... What was to go on the canvas was not a picture but an event."

Slowly Avoiding That Category

In the past few months, I've been reading more and more industry (MY industry, so writing and publishing and visual arts) blogs. I can't believe the vast majority of blogs pertaining to writing novels are all about the publishing process and little to nothing is actually said about writing. While I think it's a little boring to write about writing (my blog not excluded--and that's about to change), and the author risks giving instructions or sounding too schooled... I think what a lot of people miss is the soul purpose of the craft--that is, to write a really good book. Something that fills the heart and inspires the reader. Instead we are very concerned about whether self publishing or a publishing house will make us rich and famous. I'm interested in publishing because it's something that I one day want for my work, but I'm mostly concerned with the writing. I mean... the state of my novel, how good it is... it is what matters most. So I really hope I don't get caught up in the potential glitz and inevitable headache that is publishing and marketing and mass appeal. Nor do I wish to adapt some graduate school micro-audience over-workshopped state of mind, the kind where I think I am above publication/a general audience.

And anyways, now is not the time to be considering this. I don't care what you have to say about it. Between all the day job and cupcakes and kisses and sleeping and errands I've got to do, isn't it more than enough just to ask for a little time to PLOT the fucking thing? Please? For the moment, I can't drink coffee so unless I can exercise or otherwise get some energy tonight after work, I'm useless.

Monday, April 26, 2010

A New Direction

I think this blog is boring. No, really. I understand some of you are very interested in my process, but the process of writing a novel (at least, for me) is intimate and internal and doesn't translate well via blog (because if it did, I'd be telling too much information). What this reduces down to is a lot of me griping about not having enough time.

So. I think I'm going to just start blogging about art because those are the posts (albeit, few and far between) that really get me excited. Or maybe I'll write about other, seemingly unrelated things. I think it goes without saying but I have a lot of confidence in my writing-- I'm just not interested in updating a boring blog. Writing about writing... isn't really for me.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Sleep, Work and Updating the Outline

Not enough time!

Seriously, never enough hours in the day. I wish my body didn't require so much sleep, I'd probably get more things accomplished. (Actually, it would be great if I could just nix the day job. I mean... if I have to sacrifice 8 hours...)

BUT I've had lots of good ideas today.

I have finally begun to rework my outline for Draft 2. So exciting. I'm really happy to be at work again and while I haven't finished the outline yet (I've shifted and cut and added and worked my way to point 12 on what was originally a 79 point outline) I'm making a lot of progress. Wishing I had more energy to work tonight. Once I redraft this working outline, I'll go back into the copy and rewrite the manuscript for Draft 2. There's some reading and research that needs to be done. A couple of books to buy. Lots and lots of work (read: love).


Okay, goodnight.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

A Little Spark of Progress

It's amazing how one small detail can change an entire plot.

Maybe not an entire plot, but... Today at the restaurant I had an idea. A small change--seemingly nothing major. And now I think it's going to instantly improve the novel. This is a breakthrough and now that I've had this thought and I've worked it into the plot, I can't imagine going back on it. It seems a little early to be making such a spark of progress but I'm not going to refuse it. It completely restored my confidence after feeling a little anxious and vacant (post reading).

I've spent a few good hours today making notes. Before I had my good idea, I did a chart of characters and how they connected. That chart in the picture is not right, by the way. It needs to be redrawn. However, it definitely helped me to visualize things.

Earlier today, when I told Elizabeth about this new idea she said, "What is it?" But I can't tell you, which is what I told her. It's one of those big things that should have been there all along. It changes lots of little things and while I'm playing it off now, as if it were always there, I know when I look back on this book once it's finished, and maybe a couple of people have read it and they'll ask about the writing process, I'll say, "You know, originally, in the first draft, Trey and Dalton were not brothers!"

But they are now.

Notemaking and the Day Without Progress

Augh yesterday! I did not get ANY work done on my novel. Not even a note. Two trips to the DMV (the first of which occured at 7:30 am) then to the doctor's office and all the run around, drop by a gallery, work, DMV, dinner with family, a visit with my whitty gradfather, errands errands errands, gin cocktails at Elizabeth's while she cleaned, stopped by Aligator Soul to hand off Emily's car keys and FINALLY back to my loft where I showered and called James and got into bed, exhausted.

What kind of a day is that? One without LPT and thus one that is lacking.

Today though... Today I will get work done, even if my work right now means making notes and assessing the outline and reconfiguring the plot... It is good to be back.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Off at the Start

"I hope you like what you read but remember, the magic is in the editing." My smart ass editor friend wrote that in an email he sent days before I read the manuscript. Such a great quote.

I haven't updated since Saturday because I don't officially have internet at my house. However, there is now a signal, and thus an update...

It took me close to six and a half hours to read the entire manuscript. I swear I thought it would take less time. I didn't make many notes--focusing instead on reading and assessing what I have (or don't have) in the text. People keeping asking me how it went and what I think... It's very hard to explain. I knew before I read that the manuscript needs a lot of work. That's what happens when you're dealing with Draft 1. I had accepted that there would be a lot of work to do, but I wasn't necessarily prepared for the level of work involved.

My suspicions were true. I love the beginning of the book. And I think, that after a little bit of work, the ending is going to be brilliant. But everything in the middle... Well... I'm scraping most of this stuff and I'm moving on and making it better because this really is the fun part, figuring all this out. I am so glad to be back at work on this book. So happy. So in love.

I was stressed out and anxious moments after reading. In no mood for celebration, I sat in Ellis Square with my notebook and assessed what was wrong with the plot. I can't help but think of it as an equation. I like the beginning and the ending. I know where I start and I know where it ends, now down what paths do my characters take to end up there? What methods do they need to endure?

I forgot how hard this is.

People marvel over the accomplishment of finishing a first draft. But most people don't know what they're talking about; I mean, they have no idea what it means to write a book, or what it takes. When I have revised the first draft into the second draft, that's when you should be impressed. The hard work ahead of me makes the hard work behind me seem simple.

"I have no idea what I'm going to do with this book," I say.
"Yes you do," the author in me says, "You are going to make it better."

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Reading the First Draft of LPT

Today is the long awaited day! I am reading the first draft of my novel, LPT. The pages are printing now and I'm so excited.

My boyfriend and friends are the best. Yesterday and this morning they were all sending me well wishes and griping about my phone being off.

"Not off," I said, "On silent."

So you can still text and call and send me things, but for the next few hours (or majority of the day) I'll be unavaliable.

As Emily says, "It's all for a good cause."


We are printing!

Lady and Julip are very interested in the printer.

I can't wait to read! Ok... I need more paper....

Friday, April 9, 2010


Testing the new ink for major printing (ie: 348 pages)

"That should be one of the front pages in your book when you publish!" Emily laughs.


Guess who's getting ready...

Closed Until Tomorrow

That notebook.... Uhhhh....

This entire time--since I finished the first draft of LPT until now, the notebook for my novel has been sitting closed on the corner of my desk.

By the cover you can tell it went everywhere with me. It's stained with red wine and sunscreen (I think this may go without saying, but I drink gin poolside); the spine is banged up and bent from the inside of my bag.

Since I finished the draft, it's been parked on my desk.

I don't so much miss carrying it around. It's big. It's a Canson 9x12 sketchbook so it's not exactly "pocket size." It just so happens I have a best friend who makes handbags, and the last big bag she made me, along with the one she is soon to construct, is just big enough to hold this book.

I prefer it to be as it is, on my desk. Waiting. The temptation to open it and root around is nearly intolerable, and why I've left it sitting here, torturing myself I don't know. Except that this notebook is the same as all the other notebooks I keep for my novels, so if I were to have it anywhere else besides my desk, I'd be forced to look through them to determine which I'll need on Saturday.


God, I'm so excited. And I know it would appease me, even a little, to open my notebook and explore some of my thoughts. But that would ruin me for the reading. I think I should have plenty of distance, so it's cold, so I can better see what I have in this draft but the thing of it is I can't forget about it. Like, it won't go away.

I'm sick of being cut off. Please applaud me for my self-control.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Excitement > Preparation

I am reading the first draft of my novel on Saturday. I couldn't be more excited. Or less prepared.

I need ink. I have paper, but I need ink. And then I need to decide things like format and whether or not I want to hole punch and put it in a binder or if I just want to keep it loose and shove it all in a folder (most likely what will occur). But I am going to print. And then read, uninterrupted. My plan is to wake up to a perfectly clean loft, make coffee, breakfast and lunch and get comfy.

What will I do after I finish reading? Oh, that's obvious. I'm going to open a bottle of Yellow Label, shift through my notes and sort out the amount of work that needs to be done.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Metal Letters

LPT. James and I arranged these metal letters while waiting on a fitting room at Urban Outfitters.