Approach Alarm

Since the clock ticked over to 2013 work has progressed more slowly than intended, but the end is drawing near. We are at about 75% of the original goal for the first draft.

As the project’s one-year anniversary whizzes into the rear view mirror, I want to thank everyone who has supported my work on the novel these past 13 months. Truly, without your help I could not have come this far and my life situation (as, in turn, that of my wife and daughter) would be quite different right now. I have promised you all some bonuses, and I want both to confirm that these are on their way and to put out a request for details.

Anyone who is due some cookies or brownies, please let me know which you’re up for and if you have any special dietary concerns. If you can’t do gluten, we will use brand new pans, untouched by wheat. If you can’t do sugar, let us know if you have a preferred alternative.

Thank you again for all of your help. It has meant so much to us over the past year. Let us know what you need and we will see to it that things happen that way.

We will let you know when the actual end date is in sight. Right now it is just over the horizon.

Crimson and Ivory

Often I despair of this project, particularly as I start a new chapter. Though I sit here, days pass when hardly a word goes down. I read what I’ve written, and it seems so forced. Clearly I’m on the wrong track, but I don’t know if I can change direction.

Then something shifts. I change a few words, add a few sentences at the start, and it all makes sense. It flows. It could use another draft, like anything — maybe some expansion — but it works. Then the momentum kicks in. It’s working, so it just keeps working, building, growing.

And the changes are so small. It’s the tiniest details that trip me; the wrong syntax, or the right thoughts in the wrong order. I get flustered. I give up. I need to quit that.

This chapter isn’t the one that I wanted to write; it’s the one that the book has presented to me. There will be a place for that chapter, but right now this demands to exist. I think I moved that chapter up, anyway. Originally it was to come much later in the book; it was only while mapping out the book on a napkin, in a sleazy diner at Coney Island, that it wound up so early in the list.

It seems the more that I plan this book the more that it defies me. It was a cordial relationship so long as we kept ambling toward some vague goals together. I should know better than to exert my will over these things. I know that I’m not in control here; I just get it in my head that I need to be professional, or responsible. And then there’s this power struggle, and I come away frustrated.

The book will always win. Got to get that into my head. Just go with it. It has its reasons.

My wife and I want to express the most profound gratitude to Ryan Newman for his support of this project. Thanks also to everyone who has been following along and encouraging our progress.

Bucket Seats

Oh, I see where this chapter is going. That’s good. I was hoping it would get around to all of this.

It’s odd how helpless one feels in the face of the creative process. You want things to happen, but the process has its own ideas and methods that it only sometimes deigns to share with its host. It will take your suggestions into advisement, and maybe — just maybe, when it’s done with its own little circles of contemplation — it will quietly stumble upon them. And then very likely it will pretend that they were all part of its plan.

Part of the skill in a creative field is to learn which battles to pursue. Few of them are worth the energy; just let the damned muse have her way. Little does she realize that it’s your ideas which inspire her.

The gratitude continues, with big thanks to Mr. Brandon Sheffield — whose enthusiasm I can credit with inching me toward actual production on this novel, and whose support does not abate.

A Growing Horror

This week has been eventful; until last night I barely feel that I got any rest. My writing has suffered a bit. For a few days I barely wrote, and what I did write I hated. It just wasn’t working — and the structure was all out of whack. Every few paragraphs I would realize that I had forgotten to establish something, or to include a passage that I had wanted, or had just paced things poorly and needed more breathing room — meaning my moleskine is a maze of brackets and arrows, threatening to confuse my ever more constant inline corrections.

Then I got some rest, and I took a day off. Today I went for a stroll, and several mental blocks Tetrised into place. The linear writing is back on track, which is lovely; more significantly, my notes have begun to click. I now understand the nature and logic of some key story elements, and I now know how to approach a few difficult chapters.

The horrible secret has become that much more horrible. Which is to say, it has become that much more relatable. I dread to explain it all to my wife. Perhaps I had best let that element reveal itself in the writing.

Thanks to everyone who has been following the process, and to everyone who has donated. You have done wonders already. For anyone who missed the post about the reward scheme we have in place, go check it out. It’s kind of neat, we think.

Progress will probably speed up for the next few days.

Introspect in Retrospect

Today I rewrote a paragraph from two days ago. I do not plan on doing this again. The paragraph deals with a character’s thoughts on an issue. Two days ago, it sounded fine; maybe a little awkward; another draft would sort that out. Today I saw that the thoughts didn’t suit the character; further, they burnt a thread that I wanted to explore. So although I set rules for myself about editing, today I had to make an exception.

The start of a chapter is always slow going. There’s a period of reorientation, even if one knows the characters and the general direction that the story is headed. As the chapter goes on, the flow widens and widens until pages start to appear fully formed. Right now I’m still building momentum. The pieces are there; it just takes some scrutiny to find their trajectories and a gentle nudge to set them in motion. In a few pages I will reach a checkpoint where several elements cross. From there the chemistry should propel them through to the next juncture.

Since my last update the contributions have piled up! I have three more people to thank: a fairly new associate yet long recipient of my respect, Orb designer and With Earth In Mind author Mr. Joshua Turcotte; a long associate of my wife who shall be known as The Turtle; and — well, my own mother. Thanks to you all for your support. I hope you continue to follow the project to its completion.

And again, thanks to all other readers for your time and interest in this project. I am amazed at the positive response we have received already.

Dancing Landmarks

The second chapter continues to yank me in unexpected directions, all for the best. Nearly done now, and on the cusp of 10,000 words. In page terms this is an arbitrary number; at an average of 250 words per printed page, that comes to 40 pages. Still a good chunk of pulp, but it’s not even a round figure. Ten thousand, now that sounds like a nice milestone. And I’m nearly there.

I might have written even more tonight, except that research ate up way more time than I intended. Any time you write about New York, you really need to know your background — and sometimes the details can get kind of crazy.

Both my wife and I are touched by your continued support. The most recent donation comes from my very old friend Lan, which makes two contributors in a row in need of special cookie recipes. Dietary minefields are all part of the challenge.

If anyone has been putting off a sizable donation out of concern for gluten or sugar content, don’t you worry about it; whatever your needs, my wife can work around them. She’s clever that way.

Structure by Faith

This chapter started in a weird place, and now has wrapped its way back to reality. There is something to be said for keeping one’s eyes on the horizon and having faith in the tendency for a story to end up where it needs to be. I am now feeling more confident than ever that this project is going to work out the way I want it to.

Although from here I will offer only slim hints at the book’s content, I can’t help but share a particular sentence:

Colin viewed his neighbor’s feet with detachment.

That’s it, then. Goodnight folks.

Except that’s not it. I need to send out a huge thank-you to my friend Brady Hartel for his support of this project. He is due a fun bundle o’ junk when the process reaches that stage.

On a related note, you will see a few new details to your left: progress meters both for the novel (based on a rough guess of 300 pages) and for funding (based on rough estimates of expenses), and a tidy space to memorialize all contributors to this project.

Thank you all for your continued interest, and again for whatever help you can provide.

Under the Shades

The progress continues on chapter two. Whereas the first chapter materialized of its own accord within a matter of days, this next block has been a struggle. Part of my trouble, I think, is the shift in perspective. I know the story from Bill’s point of view. I have no trouble there. To wear another character is to run the story through a fussy manual translation. I know who these people are, but it’s trickier to understand how they work outside of Bill’s own knowledge.

Then my wife suggested music. I don’t know how I’ve gone this far without it, but that’s the catalyst I needed. Turn off the rational thought. Stop second-guessing, and just let the characters talk. And splash, there’s a good hunk of the chapter. Now if I just had some Haribo and a steady supply of Moxie — that would really quell the inner editor. Note for a future day. (These are links to my wife’s Amazon store, yes.)

In other news, we have our first donation! Though not quite anonymous I get the sense that the donor prefers to slip by quietly, so I will save my thanks for the eventual foreword. He can’t escape that.

The momentum continues, and every page brings new threads to explore. I get the sense that I am going to want to read this thing when it’s finished.

Thank you all for your support on Facebook, Twitter, and elsewhere. Continue to spread the word and keep tuning in. There will be more to see soon.