Thirty-five years ago today the Edmund Fitzgerald sank, taking the lives of 29 men. My spouse's friend had a brother who'd been scheduled to be on the ship that day, and for many hours Martin and his family thought he'd gone down with the ship. Fortunately, he'd been reassigned at the last minute and wasn't on the Fitzgerald.
Gordon Lightfoot's classic, with some great video, beginning with a vintage newscast:
. . . because I know you're on tenterhooks wondering how I'm doing.
As of last night, I was only a few hundred words behind my stated goal of 2,000 words per day. I had started out the day a couple thousand short, so that's not bad.
The "novel" is a clumsy, lumbering beast, although "beast" conjures up something powerful and wild, not the pedestrian piece of work I'm producing. The dialogue is wooden, the prose flat, the characters can't decide who or what they are, the inconsistencies are outrageous, and the plot--what plot?
But I'm having a good time writing it, and just finishing 50,000 words would be the first time I've written that long a piece of fiction. It will never see the light of day, but who cares? I'm loving having ideas come to me as I write, and if the novel goes hither and yon, unsure of just what story it's trying to tell or what it's trying to communicate, that's okay.
We get these little pep talk e-mails from the folks at NaNoWriMo, and yesterday's went like this:
My job today is to remind you that novel writing is not essay writing, it is not memo writing, and it is not about staying on point. It is just fine, even good, I'd say, if at this point you have no idea what the point of your book is. You are exploring now; you are trying to find the book. You are learning what comes out of you if you take your work seriously like this for a month. You may or may not have an outline, but it doesn't matter—what we hold in our heads before we write is RARELY in sync with what shows up on the page, and if I were standing and saying this in front of you with a megaphone, I would say this next part especially loud and clear: The Page is All We Get. What shows up on the page? Well, that is your writing. The full-blown perfectly-whole concept you may have in your head? Is just thought. (I don't mean to be scolding. I do all this too.)
There it was in my mailbox, just when I needed it. "You are learning what comes out of you if you take your work seriously like this for a month." Exactly. It's a discovery process, doing this kind of sustained, fast writing.
I'm loving it.
I have long stretches when I have time to work on it, but I don't. That is, I'm not at the keyboard, But all through the day, I'm thinking about the characters and what happens next, what bit I'll write next, how to get from point A to point B. Not thinking hard, just fleeting thoughts that come in the night or when I'm loading the dishwasher.
I really, really want to get to that 50,000 mark. I think I'm already past the number of words I wrote last year. So onward and upward! Wish me luck.
A friend and I have been having a most interesting conversation based on my post about the scarlet A over there in the right column. He's a reasonable person and I hope I've been reasonable too. And he's not, to my knowledge, a religious person. at least in the sense of organized religion. But in the course of our conversation I ran across this video by Tim Minchin, who is known for his skepticism and nonbelief in god, and couldn't resist putting it up here.