Stack ‘em, pack ‘em and rack ‘em
I’ve got some good outline going for part 2, though to be honest I haven’t done as much this last two weeks as I would have liked. Lots of turmoil for me at work, with budgets running dry at the end of fiscal years, and some days I don’t know how many hours I’ll have that day, never mind the next. Very stressful. At least for the next two weeks, however, I know I’ve got X hours so I can relax a little bit and let my mind unclench so I can get back to the book.
I needed a little time anyway after finishing the interlude. I basically burst into tears the morning I finished it – went down in the basement to punch and kick the bag and found myself suddenly weeping, just for a few seconds, then punching some more, then crying again. I know, it’s hardly like I won Wimbledon by getting through that section, but I understand now why champions burst into tears – they’re tears of exhaustion as much as joy. You’ve been dreaming of something for so long, and then, there it is, and however firmly you believed you could get there, it’s suddenly hard to believe you’re actually there. Compound that with all the work stress and is it any wonder.
For three years now, I’d go on my New York trips, and I’d imagine Christopher wandering the streets, having betrayed everyone he knew, but I never thought it out any further than that; it was the thing I’d get to when I finished part one, however I was going to do that. It was like a vague longing, this idea that if I could get that far, I would be a writer again, instead of thinking of my self as “I was a writer, once.” (Three years of blog posts did not count in this view.) I would be vaguely “inspired” by my trips, come back and write about art as if I knew anything about it – ironically, things that I’ve written about works nobody else seems to care about, like Barthel Gilles’ Ruhrkampf, have driven more traffic to the site than anything else I’ve done. But I wouldn’t do the real thing, which was to write the novel. Now I am, present tense, a novelist again.
Not that I would dismiss the value of the trips, even if in the short term they didn’t lead to a tremendous fountain of productivity. On this last trip, I managed to get an artistic frisson or two. I was at “The Steins Collect” at the Met, and was looking at some Matisse paintings from around 1904, thinking, why those are perfectly garish.
Then all of a sudden I realized that the same brazen color palette, the same techniques, were present in David Hockney’s work, and I am a Hockney nut. That’s where he got it! I thought. I see it! I’m reading his biography now, and I’m eager to see if I’m right.
I went to the Cindy Sherman exhibit, and loved her portraits of society dames, though I’m damned if I know why they picked the least interesting photo for the show poster:
The women in these pictures are hard as nails, their “elegance” a brittle shell over both ruthlessness and vulnerability – their wealth a weapon, but their age a liability in the era of the second trophy wife. The picture above, used for the poster, seems to me to be that of the least fragile of the cast of characters – I would have picked this one, which was the one that accompanied most of the media coverage:
I’ve worked for ladies like these, back in San Francisco, and Sherman has captured them exactly – the gentility, the superiority, the arrogance, the streak of animal cruelty that mostly comes out when you touch the nerve of their terror of being toppled from their perch.
So, the goal for these next two weeks is to get the first chapter of part two done, 20 pages or so. If I can get more, awesome superness. I’ve got 20 pages or so outlined now, with notes on the next 20, so things are moving along. Amazing how easy it is to put out pages when you have the roadmap ready.
I’m taking a summer session class four nights a week starting next week, since working a four hour day and then staring down the barrel of 10 empty hours after that would be the death of me. And I always feel more creative being in school, even though none of my classes are ever directly related to my writing. So things are looking up in the creative department.
If you’re interested, I’ve put up a page on GoFundMe.com to try and make up some of the deficit I’m facing from lost wages at the day job. To be honest, even a dollar here and there would be encouraging as a vote of confidence from people who’ve read some of the book and endorse the idea.