The First Writing Friday
It doesn’t feel totally real yet, but my first writing Friday is in the books. Literally!
I knew I wouldn’t be able to sit in one place and produce words the whole day. (I probably will never be able to do that, and I’m guessing there aren’t many writers who do? Also that doesn’t sound very healthy?) So I started with an hour outside at my local coffee shop, adding some new words to the nonfiction project. Then I went on a long, meandering walk while listening to a new podcast (Here to Save You) followed by an audiobook (Veronica by Mary Gaitskill, which my friend Sara recommended because I loved Animal by Lisa Taddeo).
It was a strange weather day, alternately humid and chilly, that ended in a torrential downpour, but this part of the day was warm and sunny and made for a pleasant walk. I love walking and listening to audiobooks or short stories because I can always remember where I was during pivotal scenes. (I can point on a map of Dublin to the footbridge I was crossing as T. C. Boyle read the culmination of Tobias Wolff’s “Bullet in the Brain” on the New Yorker Fiction podcast in 2008.)
I made my way to the Brooklyn Museum, where I planned to gather some novel inspiration.
I found myself in the Luce Center for American Art’s Visible Storage / Study Center, which is an operating storage room where you can look at a bunch of art from the museum’s collection that isn’t on display, at least not in the way it would be if it were part of an exhibit. The objects are densely packed in glass display cases with no descriptions, but they do have numbers so that you can look them up in the Luce database. I was there to see examples of 1920s-1930s design and the Luce did not disappoint.
From the museum, I walked to the Center for Fiction, stopping for a poke bowl and some reading along the way. By the time I arrived, I had a few hours to spend on the novel. I split it between cleanup — I keep saying this manuscript is a mess, but truly, this manuscript is a mess 😂 — and writing a new scene.
Between the two projects, I wrote around 1150 words. (I’m back to counting because I’m gearing up for this year’s 1000 Words of Summer — more on that next week.) But more importantly, I began to make space in my head to hold this whole novel.
It will probably take several weeks to get into a real Friday routine, but after the first one I am feeling optimistic. It’s not like I haven’t made progress on the novel in the past two years — I’ve written around 70,000 words — but it’s been full of false starts and not-quite-right paths and the whole thing is disjointed. My gut tells me that if I can give it more time and more consistency, I’ll be able to find the through line. So now’s my chance to try.
If you’ve been reading for a while, thanks for sticking with me. I promise there will be a novel at the end of this!