synapses firing into gravel

Ophelia, George Frederic Watts

I’ve cracked my head against the glass ceiling, having risen to the level of my incompetence in attempting to write A Lamentation of Swans. It is as important to know when to let go and let be as it is to know when to keep on keeping on. Today I packed every piece of paper about Swans into a box, every piece of paper dating from 1992 to now, and placed that box in the closet, where it will sit until I feel like I can write the book–whenever, and if ever, that time comes. I’m not giving up entirely, but I think the book is bigger than my ability to write it at this point in my creative ambitions.

Adrian put it succintly and perceptively in his comment, “Perhaps this is just a larger work that you will get back to. Working on other things could help you develop whatever skills, insights, etc., that you’ll need when you come back to Swans.” Yep. Think so.

I’ve labored on this novel since 1992, and it has become an albatross, bowing my shoulders. I want it out of my way. In his comment, Adrian also said, “Best to capitalize on strengths and work on what works, in my view.” With Swans, I was no longer capitalizing on my strengths, but merely lugging from year to year a sack of weaknesses. I’m going to move on, and when I gain more insight into that book somewhere down the road, I’ll pick it up again.

But I kept out the Swanology binder. I’m sure things will occur to me. So I’ll keep a playful connection with the novel. I really enjoy working on Swanology, and it’s grown some. I’ll post a photo of the cover and some of the pages as soon as I stop feeling lazy, take the pictures, and load them.

I certainly appreciate all the encouragement I’ve received from you all who read these scribblings, and it does make me a little sad to set it down. But there’s other books for me to write, and time enough.


4 thoughts on “synapses firing into gravel

  1. He Debra. I just had an impulse to drop by this morning, and look what I find!

    Speaking for myself, I have many more unfinished than finished projects, a fact I’m not too happy with. There is the danger (or fact) of perfectionism–a common trait among firstborn and only-born children, btw (I’m the former)–in which one is driven by the deep-seated belief that only perfection is good enough. Many of the greats had it, though; one of my favorites being the landscape painter John Constable, who accumulated a lot of unfinished pictures in his time, and indeed did not seem ever to consider any of his pictures finished, continuing to tinker with them even after they’d been sold and delivered.

    On the other hand, any creative work proceeds only with the inspiration of its author. From that point of view, the decision to stop working on something is usually more an acknowledgment of an already existent fact (at least in my case): “Hm. I’m not working on this anymore, it looks like.”

    In your case, you’ve got lots of projects on the go, it seems. All the best with them.

  2. I remember once when I packed Shadow of the lion away, actually ‘buried’ it under stuff so I wouldn’t even see it. Later brought it out and began work on it again. I know the feeling of frustration but I am also amazed how you can be working on various projects all at once. I write travel articles and a few odds and ends (short stuff) while working on Shadow. Once I set it aside for two years to rework my play, The Street. But I can’t work on another novel while that was is still unfinished. I’ve got two months to go before I leave for Greece again, and I’m within sight of the end. So the next two months is dedicated to the novel. (I’ve only got my Chile travel to write, the rest is finished except for marketing).
    Good luck with you projects. And don’t worry. I’m sure you’ll resume work on Swans when the time is right.

  3. My on and off project is Kings and Rebels – too much good to throw it away, too much suckage to figure out how to make it work …. The magic stones may help, but I’m going to let the project simmer while I work on my Roman books for now.

    Good luck with your other darlings.

  4. Let it lie fallow in the cold dark depths of your closet. When it’s time for spring, you’ll feel it in your heart and you can bring it out and see what will be born again. It will never die; it just waits for your vision to renew.

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