I started writing a new book today, just the beginning ideas. I’m kinda of thinking a futuristic type of conjure tales told from the perspective of a nine year old boy based on stories his grandmother tells him. If you are at all familiar with Charles Chesnutt‘s the Conjure Woman and Other Conjure Tales then you know that this weaving of stories within stories is not a new idea, in fact it is a very old way of story telling. Anne Sexton uses this technique in her book of poetry, Transformations. All the short stories will be based on (but elaborated) real life experiences of when I lived in a little town in Germany. The town is ripe for stories of ghosts, history and strange happenings. As I was working on it today my thoughts ran out faster then I could type and I became somewhat intimidated by the challenge I’d just set before me. It is amusing to me what I have discovered to be the “work” part (for me) of writing. The ideas come easy. I have mentioned before I already have a list so long that it is unlikely that I will get to it all before I die. I have found that I really like the revision process. I like moving things around and reworking the piece. The work is the first draft. It is when I am writing that first draft that all theses ideas and questions come flying at me and I start to feel a bit of panic at a how long it will be before I get to the end. How will I work out the sequence? Where do I start? How will I ever do it?! I forget that I don’t have a time limit here and there is no one waiting for the book but me. Sometimes, I think the world is so hurried and rushed, like, I better write the book in a day because if not then I have failed somehow, but that is just ridiculous. I’m guessing it’s because when we see or read blurbs about famous people all the work part gets cut out of the story so it seems like all these people can just write a four hundred page book in a few hours. I’m certain that Paul Auster struggled over pages, and that Toni Morrison didn’t write her first couple of books in a day.
It seems that in our culture we don’t want to admit that the arts are actual work we only want to see the polished finished product and we demand perfection but completely forget that it is people who do art. People with multiple jobs or unemployed and worried about money, they have families and responsibilities, they have personal tragedies and joys just like any person in any profession. Every artist, when starting, has to do their work for free and many don’t get paid at all. You can’t just apply to publishing companies right out of college, “Hello I’ve just graduated. I’m a writer and here are a list of ideas I have for stories.” They don’t fly you out for an interview. It’s product first- pay later. I think I get caught up in the idea of it and then panic. But again this is ridiculous. So, so Ridiculous. So much so that I can write two sentences a day if I want to. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that I write. It isn’t a race, no matter how much it feels like it is.