Friday, November 6, 2009
observations, one week in
I am making progress with the novel. There is an Excel spreadsheet you can get from Nano Wrimo, where you can enter your progressive total and it gives you a range of stats and a graph. According to it I am tracking okay, and will complete the quantity by the end of November.
But of course this is the small half of the story. Now I have summoned up people and incidents and the undercurrent of a bigger story that is heading towards some goal that I can't see. And every time I bring in someone new, they say things, or I say things about them that lead to more questions. What are they doing there? What's their bigger plan? Or will they fade away and remain unsatisfyingly inexplicable?
And some things are taking longer than I had planned. There was early business about an accident and hospital, and I hadn't intended to spend more than one chapter in hospital. But it took me two and half chapters to get out. That wasn't part of the plan. What happens now? Do I still get to where I think I'm going, or do I end up somewhere else and unfinished?
I said to myself before I started, to just follow, do what's in front of me each day and keep the goal in sight. Although it's not anything that explicit. It's just the idea of the goal, and the feeling of what it will be like to know that I have reached the goal. The feeling of what I want to have done when I get there.
In Lord of the Rings and in Wizard of Earthsea there were dark clouds at the start and a desparate quest, and life at stake. In my story the quest is the desire to see clearly the arid lands in which I am situated, and to find another way. But such a poor fool that the author is, perhaps he will run stupidly from place to place until he runs out of steam and gives up.
One of my sons, the kegmaster, is also writing his novel this month. He was describing his story to his brother, who reported the conversation to me thus. "What's your novel about?" "It's about..." (tells him; it's a science fiction story about microscopic creations that invade human bodies.) "So where's the silver bullet? How will humankind be saved?" And the kegmaster's response: "Who said there needed to be a silver bullet?"
And I remember reading Tolkein and Ursula Le Guin, and in the reading I was not convinced that all would be well. It was more as if we started out at the bottom of a well, and the only available direction was even deeper.
The picture? The scanner worked the next day, when it was no longer 35 degrees hot. And this was school, which the story has long left behind, in search of brighter dreams. A foreboding bunch of teachers, with dark angels as their guides, and I with long hair and just the germ of hope.