Monday, December 27, 2010

Book Countdown, from the Trenches

The Book is due one week from today--that'll be Monday, January 3, 2011.

It's been sort of awful (on top of fascinatingly wonderful, tracking 600 years of communication in the USA).
The awful part is the slog of writing the damn thing because, I don't know how other writers do it, but I pretty much can't do anything when I'm supposed to be writing except write or else I won't write at all.

I mean, if I do anything but sit at my desk first thing in the morning, my brain declares it's a holiday and I don't have to write at all that day. If I take a midday break to go to the YW, my brain declares I am done for the day. If I write anything of substance except The Book, say, a blog post, it totally throws my book-writing brain off track.
Also, I can't write much once the sun goes down (about 5 these days).

So I sit here and sometimes I write pretty well and sometimes I don't.

Off and on I feel bad, lazy, insane, stupid, pathetic, misguided, and/or hopeless for not being able to toss words out lightly, like doves at a wedding, instead of tracking them through muddy trenches.

I have the sort of dreams you have when you're feeling you're bad, lazy, etc.

Also, I feel fatter and droopier than I was when I started, and physical evidence confirms this is not a neurotic illusion.

I know I am not, in fact, any of those things (except fatter & droopier):
these unpleasant feelings are just the by-products of writing, for now. Writing for work, anyway.

Yes, of course I know I could [fill in the blank with sensible advice here, like "go to the gym in the evening"].
More power to those who manage such things.

Alas, Jan. 3 is not the end, it's just the date the ms goes to the editor. I'll have to do rewrites, possibly substantial, (a dreadful prospect, of course).

The nice thing is, I'm pretty sure the book will be fine, in the end.
The material is great, anyway--I've dug through lots of amazing primary sources, and they provide fun lumps of quotes. I just have to provide the mortar that holds them together, which I'm actually not that great at. Some people can pour forth that stuff with ease, but I can't.

I have this feeling that if I keep doing this work--turning muddy history into tidy bricks--I'll get good at it.
I don't know that I want to get good at it.
Secretly, underneath the feelings of being bad, I feel it is the work that is dim, not me. That this is not how I want to use my brain.

I'm not sure if I just feel this way because this is such a long slog. Possibly this is exactly the sort of thing I need to be sharper.

I can't see clearly right now, but I feel a lot better, having said so.

Have you seen Sebastiao Salgado's photo essay, Serra Pelada Gold Mines, Brazil? It bugs me when people try to dismiss their pain by saying it's not as bad as X, because, you know, our pain is our own and it's worth paying attention to;
but I've gotta say, when I was writing about what a slog this is, I thought how lucky I am I'm not literally hauling mud uphill.

A few more, here: Fotonix.


marZ said...

You got soul, but you're not a soldier?
As they say. (The Killers. The band, that is. Someone used their "I got soul but I'm not a soldier" song for a Bones tribute, which is how I heard it. Anyway.)

There's this one poem - To See For Yourself, Deborah Bogen, and your GDB reminds me of the first half of it:

You'll need a bone saw, and a skull chisel,
a scalpel and scissors. You'll need
toothed forceps, a basin of water—
you'll need time. But even with the tools,
even with a silvery light flickering on all that
metal, it will be difficult to detach
the eggs from the branches [. . . ]

But, my good friend, the tunnel! The oranges!

Ok, so that last line is from a separate and totally unrelated poem (Under Siege? Or something? Don't remember who it's by, don't really remember anything but the last line), but . . . ends with oranges.

Seriously though, if you need a scalpel . . .

Emma J said...

I so hear you. Is it possible to live and write in some kind of balance?

Fresca said...

Bless you, MARZ, you always say the right thing.

EMMA: I should have said in this post, because it's true, I was inspired to be honest about what a rotten time I've been having, by a recent post of yours, about the value of "whining" (I don't even like that word, because it's used as a put-down)---of being honest about the hard times we have.
It keeps us real.

I'm not sure, in fact, that balance is possible, or even good. Creativity seems to me to be wildly OUT of balance... I mean, it takes us to the heights and the depths.
But perhaps we (I) might better maintain kindness toward ourselves (and others!) through the wild ride? I'd like that.