Sunday, November 15, 2009

Monday 16 November: swimming with the current


How many days since I posted my previous blog? Days, it seems.
I went to a music festival on Friday, Saturday, Sunday. Took the laptop, which promises five hours' battery life. It lasted for two hours. But I got a chapter written, sitting in a tent in the southern highlands and hearing the music in the distance. So I kept in touch with the story. And because what I'm writing is now a "novel" instead of "non-fiction", the line between myself and the story is, shall we say, softer. So the music, the travelling, the words I've heard and the personal experiences I've had are wandering into the book and suggesting where they belong there, and how they can shape its direction.
I started out like Stephen Covey in the Seven habits of highly effective people, "knowing the end in mind". In some sense that's still very true, but it's like saying, "I'm going to paint a mountain". The mountain can still surprise us.
The I Ching continues to throw its surprises too. I am still starting each writing session by throwing the coins and pondering how this relates to the situation in the novel. Sometimes it's clear what situations and episodes it is alluding to, and my job is to simply to follow, to articulate it well. And sometimes I know the situation but I wouldn't have thought that that hexagram applied. So I have to think about that situation from a different perspective. All my settled ideas about that situation are upturned.
This morning I got an email from the NSW Writers Centre about a workshop next month on creative non-fiction. Robin Hemley from Uni of Iowa. He has written books with titles like Nola: A memoir of faith, art and madness, All you can eat, and Extreme fiction: Fabulists and formalists. I rang them and signed up for it straight away. No hesitation. The universe is reading my mind; I am in open conversation with it.
I'm conscious that I may start sounding crazy to other people. But my purpose is still to make clear the learning of the journey. And I am realising that this novel (I'm still getting used to using that word) is just picking up a few of all the millions of strands in my head, all the sense-making and the urge to experience it all and express it. This is about harnessing stars. I am looping my rope.
And now the statistics: 29,150 words; total hours writing: 40 hours. Morale, on a scale of 1 to 10: 9. This is exhilarating.
What picture for today? George Caddy, Sydney photographer in the 1930s. This is one of many photos he took. I see them as studies of humans achieving balance in tension, and there is great beauty in that.

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