Did just over 400 words this morning, which isn’t much, but it’s a work day, so I can live with that.
I’ve been thinking more about my ‘ex’-novels, the ones that didn’t work out. I’ve always envied people who hammer away at a huge opus and make it their life’s work. I remember being fixated by the idea of Jack Kerouac’s ‘scroll’ – the massive manuscript of On The Road that he typed on one continuous (or at least, taped together) piece of paper. I was in awe of someone having such concrete proof of being a writer. Imagine being able to carry it around with you, and produce it if you happened to run into another writer or a publisher. For some reason the image of the scroll – the writer’s work in progress – was much more powerful to me than imagining Kerouac with his published book.
But as much as I love the idea of having this one project that you toil at for years and years, in practice, I have dabbled. I spent time on different novels and then abandoned them because they didn’t feel right. I spent most of my twenties writing, but not a novel. I don’t even know how to describe what I did except that it was an apprenticeship – notebook after notebook, often one per month, full of observations and fragments. It wasn’t a record of my life, it was an attempt to render what I saw into fiction. Somehow it delivered me here, and what I’m doing now doesn’t feel like dabbling anymore, although in many ways I don’t feel wiser about what to write, just what not to.