Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Good Evening

Well, isn't this a shock? Here I am writing on my blog after months of silence. I can't say whether this is a shot in the dark or the beginning of a new wave of energy. I'm more than six months into being home. Paris feels distant, but not nearly so distant as I would think six plus months should make it feel. I suppose that's because I'm writing a novel set in Paris and in one way or another, I seem to spend at least part of every day there. I do write just about everyday. In fact, I get very uncomfortable when I don't. I'm writing most of the time now. It's all I want to do.

So where am I? Well, I'm teasing together the writing I had started before I traveled to Paris with the writing that followed my return. When I came home, I essentially started my novel over again. I didn't quite think of it that way. I fooled myself into thinking I was simply rewriting the opening and shifting the focus "a little." The chess set is one of the "props" in my story. It's from the late 18th century, made in Lyon. I find it rather incredible. I'm aware that I write from a very visual place, that when something attracts me, it often finds a way into the story. Although in the case of the chess set, I wanted one, and so I went hunting for one and found this one. The picture below is a painting of the 1819 Salon at the Louvre, the year the Raft of the Medusa hung. I used it to help me write the scene set at that Salon. I loved trying to capture the feel of the Louvre in words.

Fact is, every thing shifted in Paris, and while it's true that the material I wrote before leaving is usable, and I am, indeed, using it—the book changed so much, that I'm having to do major rewriting on all the previously existing material. Depends on just where you catch me in the process how I feel about that. Mostly, to be absolutely honest, it's remarkably interesting. Sometimes frightening, sometimes frustrating. I have gotten completely stuck once or twice, but maybe "completely" is the wrong term, since I'm still moving forward, which means I've found my way out of those blind alleys.

I'm learning so much about writing that I'm almost beside myself. I haven't blogged about it because for the most part, I haven't known how to talk about the process. But at the moment, I'd like to try. I may even, in the next few weeks, if my process of blogging gets regular again, move on to a new blog. Sounds odd to say that, but I'm thinking, it's not Paris now, and part of the reason I don't visit my "blog," is because it's supposedly "about Paris."

What's going on in my life just now is fiction writing. When I was in Paris, I was doing research. I wrote almost no fiction during those three months, and, in fact, when I tried, I couldn't figure out where to begin. It makes sense in retrospect. It would have been a total waste to spend all my time in Paris in front of a computer trying to write fiction. I would not have seen any of the world I went to Paris to see.

I do wish I could go back. There are things I didn't see that I wish I had. However, the impact of those three months on my book has been remarkable. I'm extremely grateful to myself for facing my fears, which were many, and making the journey. It's not only a different novel in content for the journey, it's a different quality of novel, a better story to be sure. I'm content, extremely content, actually, to be writing fiction. I'm learning so much at the moment that it's almost impossible to explain. I'm too in the middle of it, I think, but a friend told me that my novel is a bit symphony.

I like that image because I'm writing about a woman who composed three symphonies, really remarkable symphonies. I like them. A lot. They're dramatic and dynamic and melodic and passionate. They're good. That's Louise Farrenc I'm talking about. She deserves to be better known. In any event, one of the characters told Louise that she has an "ear for writing symphony," that it's easier to create a single beautiful voice—much more difficult to bring independent voices together in a beautiful manner. That's what I'm trying to do with this novel: weave a number of stories together in a compelling and satisfying way, finding the interconnections and the parallels and the rifts that blend them one with the other. That's one of the reasons I'm learning as much as I am right now, about writing. It's very exciting.

I'm also teaching two ongoing critique classes. I'm very happy to be doing so. I always learn when I teach. I've got a few individual clients too, who I work with one-on-one. Most of my time is spent in the world of writing. It's an interesting way to live. It's edgy, not always comfortable, but it's also inspiring and feels "right," if you know what I mean. There's much more to be said. This is just a quick brush up against the medium—the blogging medium, that is. I wanted to get the feel of it again. So, maybe tomorrow, maybe the next day, I'll try to say more.