10,261 (NANO novel). After reaching my word goal for the November novel yesterday, I turned my attention to A Lamentation of Swans and decided to start this book over. I love the idea of this novel so much and the desire to write it is like a fire I can’t put out. I’m not able to let it go, but it’s clear to me that a lot about the story as it’s written so far does not sit well in my mind. So–back to square one. Not a revision or a re-do, but a re-envisioning, a new start at page 1, a fresh perspective. I put away the most recent printout in the box with all the ALoS stuff, going to pretend like the book doesn’t exist. It’s a brand-new collection of ideas; a shining white road winds before me, and the murky forest has vanished.
John Gardner in The Art of Fiction states, in discussing the “Write about what you know.” maxim: “Nothing can be more limiting to the imagination, nothing is quicker to turn on the psyche’s censoring devices and distortion systems, than trying to write truthfully and interestingly about one’s own home town, one’s Episcopalian mother, one’s crippled younger sister.” I know nothing; I’ll have to imagine it all.
Gardner continues to say, “For some writers, the advice may work, but when it does, it usually works by a curious accident: The writer writes well about what he knows because he has read primarily fiction of just this kind–realistic fiction of the sort we associate with The New Yorker, the Atlantic Monthly, or Harper’s. The writer, in other words, is presenting not so much what he knows about life as what he knows about a particular literary genre.” The writer writes the kind of story he knows and likes best.
I don’t think I’ll get any words on the November novel today, but I’m a bit ahead so not to worry. I’m not going to pressure myself over it.
It’s a pale November morning, and tomorrow, Mom will have been gone from us a month.