Tuesday, July 16, 2002

Rob Roy / Dances With Muses

I’ve heard from One of the Three. He sent me a wonderful email. We used to be pretty close friends until he moved away about four years ago. We’d recently reconnected, and I told him that, in a lot of ways, I was no longer the same person he once knew. Nice to know that he embraces the “new and improved” me. (Or is it just that I finally figured myself out?)

In any case, I’m so glad to have heard from him. Although he’s a person I’ve always felt something of a connection to, I had no idea we had so much in common. There are very few people in this world I’ve felt that “click” with – not the romantic, sexual one, but the “We truly understand one another on every level” one.

Stayed up late writing last night. I’d forgotten what a rush it could be when the story picks you up and carries you away with it. I’m very bleary-eyed this morning, and a little afraid to check out what I wrote (think of a kind of literary morning after) in case it wasn’t as good as I thought. But in any case, it’s going well. I’m on page 35, with 8200 words down. And this time, I think this story is ready to be written.

It’s a very difficult story for me to write, not only because it’s good, but because it’s so personal. It’s not one of those first novels you sometimes see, “The Epic of ME!", but there’s a lot of raw emotion in it that I have to pull out from where I’ve buried it, and then get it on the page.

This is my fourth or fifth attempt at this story in ten years, and I think it’s finally at the stage where, in some ways, it’s writing itself. In fact, there was a rather large hole in the plotline, where something major just drops off the map. I’d forgotten about it, actually, and last night I found myself writing a resolution to it. I hadn’t planned on writing it, but here it was. And I think it really worked!

When I was in university, I used to always have the same writing pattern. It would be Friday night. I’d go downtown, pick up some Diet Pepsi (either 4 litres or a 24-case – they used to jokingly call it my 2-4). Then I’d go back to my dorm room, take out some crisp, clean Hilroy looseleaf and a fine-point pen, usually black. I’d lie on my stomach on the tiny space on the floor and I’d begin to write. It would get dark and then it would get light, and by the time McConnell Hall opened for brunch, I’d have a finished short story in front of me.

Adjusting to writing on the computer was difficult. First of all, until I got the old laptop, I couldn’t lie on my stomach and write. Secondly, anyone who has every chatted with me knows that my typing isn’t the best, to the point that sometimes whole words get substituted. Thirdly, you don’t get that rush of a stack of paper in your hands immediately having written it. Oh, sure, you could print it, but it doesn’t have the same gratification. You start with blank looseleaf and you actually feel it filling up with your words as you go. Absolutely nothing like it in the world.

Starting to write this book, I actually did go back to basics, with my Diet Pepsi, my clipboard, my pillow and the livingroom floor. I wrote the Prologue that way, then typed it in later. Since then, I’ve made up a “Soundtrack” of different moods that occur in the book, and I find that if I put on headphones, I get completely immersed and I can go for hours without being distracted. (Self-discipline, when it comes to anything – essays, housework, falling in love, writing – is always my downfall.)

Anyway, I ought to get back to work. Time to see what the characters have been up to while I’ve been asleep.

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