I have spent the last two days working on my book. It is ironic that writing and writers are so often romanticized. “What a fantastic life he must lead,” people think. “He’s a writer.”
But watching someone write a book is probably one of the most boring spectacles there is. And writing? Writing is sitting in front of a computer for 8 hours a day, not talking to anyone, interacting only with the glowing screen. I wouldn’t trade it for any other occupation, but I’m not going to lie to you about it either. The process of writing is really only interesting for the writer.
When I am writing, I am no longer with you in the room. I do not hear the television or the music playing in my headphones (though having the music playing at all is part of my ritual for entering the writing trance). I am in the story.
When I am excited about something, can’t wait for the day when it will finally happen, I write out the scenario as I imagine it, tens of, hundreds of times in my notebook. Because every time I write it I am there, living it.
Virtual reality and time travel were invented when the first word was written.
My manuscript is getting fat—53 pages fat to be exact. But the structure is chaotic, still a direct reflection of my garbled thoughts. I have only ever been capable of organizing my thoughts through writing. So first comes the babble, then the order. At the end of it all I find that I have finally learned how to say what I was thinking, to translate the brain babble into English.
My computer screen is too small to fix lengthy structural problems. At most I can see three paragraphs at a time. So I printed out pages one through 16 and taped them all to the bookshelf behind my desk, making large notes in the margins about what was happening in each section so I could look at the bigger picture, making notes about where to move things that were still incubating in paragraphs set off with bolded question marks.
It was then that I played “dead flag blues” (a godspeed! you black emperor song) and stared at the pages, fluttering there against all those bound volumes.
I imagined them burning, edges curling in on themselves in yellow and orange.
I have dedicated myself to sterility, to nonfiction. (It was an accident, officer, I swear!) Yet my heart beats in these lines, and the louder it gets, the closer I will be to finishing.
I hear it is national novel writing month. A little bird told me.