It’s my third morning of work — back on the novel — and, just as I predicted, I’m feeling better about it. And about life.
I’ve also been reading The Pen and the Bell, a splendid new book about writing and meditation by Holly Hughes and Brenda Miller. One exercise they suggest is to write about how one begins.
This summer I haven’t been getting up early. Even when I get to bed at a decent time (last night, for instance) I sleep until six or seven in the morning. This morning, it was seven o’clock when I opened my eyes. But by 7:15 I had made coffee and was headed out to my cabin. Or, “The Potting Shed,” which is what I call it. I flipped on some music (Shostakovich), and my electric fireplace (no heat today, just the flicker of flames), and turned on a lamp.
Some mornings I light a candle, too. It was so warm this morning I skipped the candle (and soon turned off the flames — who needs the atmosphere when it’s 75 degrees at 8 a.m.?). I got out my journal and scribbled, pretty aimlessly, for a while. Then I picked up my notebook.
I read aloud. I made some notes. I found my laptop (in the house, in Annie’s room as she borrows it to do her math homework and never returns it). I typed up what I have on the midpoint event. I’m killing a character — just a minor one — but it’s hard! I tend to watch out for my characters as if they were my children, and even the bad ones get all kinds of attention and positive efforts lavished on them if I’m not careful. “How does this advance the plot?” “How does this contribute to the main character’s emotional development?”
I wrote a very bad first draft of the death scene. I printed it out.
And now to do a little more.
That wasn’t so much how I start as the whole lollapalooza.
Over and over people say to me, “How nice that you’re not working this summer.” That’s what I want to write about tomorrow.