Saturday, June 13, 2009

Whistling in the Dark

If reading fiction involves a willing suspension of disbelief, how much more writing it? I am in theory somewhere more or or less halfway through the rough draft of my novel, yet I still don't really feel like I know what I am doing. 

Usually afraid (because it might turn out to be so god-awful) to go back and reread what I have written so far, today I did, with the aim of putting it all in a giant file (giantfile.doc), which is how I learned I am up to 66,609 words.


 Never mind the faintly satanic whiff of that word count. And never mind that I estimate one-half to one-third of those words are not needed (if only I know which ones.) It's a lot!  That's through Chapter 13! And the thing is, it is mostly  kind of interesting, even if I repeat myself at times (one sign that I wasn't looking back as I went along) and well,  if I don't find it interesting, how can I expect anyone else will?

Writing a novel, more than anything else I have ever done in life, is about making something from  pretty much nothing, as opposed to merely assembling something from constituent elements, the way lumber and concrete and pipes and nails come together to be  a house (not that I have ever built a house) or eggs and flour and sugar and a leavening agent, properly combined, can result in a cake. (I have made cakes, though not well, and not recently. Hey, I am busy here.)

But this is the thing. If you were halfway through a house, it would start to seem like a fait more or less accompli. People would drive by and see it, and ask, how's your house coming? Or the smell of the baking would fill your  kitchen and maybe waft down the corridor, if you lived in an apartment house, and you would notice it as you walked up from walking the dog or checking the mail. I'm not really having that feeling with The Jane Austen Project (though the support of my readers has been exemplary and more than I deserve: thank you, Carol, Bill and Czesia). It still seems like such a bubble, like a fragile thing that could disappear at any moment.

And that is why writing is like whistling in the dark, holding your breath past the graveyard, pretending everything is cool, because if you don't believe in it, who will?