And stained glass corn
Writing a novel is like having a long-term, very close friendship, during the course of which both people change. There are fundamental beliefs you have shared from the beginning; that’s what brought you together. New ideas have been introduced. Old ideas have flexed or fallen away. There have been negotiations.
As I make my little edits to what I have so far, as I add a new sentence here or paragraph there, it doesn’t feel like a lot is getting done. But I look back to where the manuscript was at the beginning of the summer, last winter, last summer, and it’s somehow both wildly different and, at its core, the same. Is any of this making sense?
I did some journaling this week on character motivations. There is still more work to do there. But I also listened to and read some wonderful things, so in the absence of a meatier novel progress report, two recommendations:
Tin House Live: Rebecca Makkai on the Ear of the Story — This craft talk from the 2019 Tin House Summer Workshop is excellent. Makkai talks about basically the flip side of point of view: who is the implied listener? And how does the implied listener affect what is said/left unsaid? This talk is very smart and also very funny.
Carley Moore’s Panpocalypse — I didn’t realize this was a 2020 pandemic book when I picked it up, and I probably would have said I wasn’t ready for that, but I was definitely ready for this book and in some ways feel like I have been waiting for it. There is a bike named Lana, named not exactly for Lana Turner but for the Lana Turner of the Frank O’Hara poem, the one who is always and forever collapsing. There is a portal that allows the narrator to time-travel to 1930s Paris and party at Le Monocle. There is the city locked down but also there are protests and the narrator is trying to write and parent and work and find connection. It’s about queerness and disability and motherhood and so many other things and apparently I have thoughts about it so I’ll save them for an essay and just say if any of that sounds good to you, read it.