Monday, March 15, 2010


After a month and a half of writing on this book, I've now passed two major milestones in one day: 1) I've now written well over 200 pages and 2) I let my husband read the first five chapters. For anyone who reads this blog, you'll know what at terribly frightening prospect that was (the husband part). Well, I handed him the second draft of Part I and now I'm on to flesh out Part II. I didn't want to be there when he started reading, because his face is a bit like an open book. He read and he read and when he stopped reading I thought he might have something to say or maybe have some questions. But sadly he didn't. So I brushed my teeth and started to go to bed and asked how far he had read; a silly question because of course no sensible person would read more or less of one chapter in an evening sitting. Arn't I stupid. Still failing to bring the conversation I was seeking to life, I furthered a remark: "Well, that was fast." To which he replied: "Not really, it was only fifteen pages." Perhaps I'm a bit over sensitive, but ouch that was a very pointed 'only.' But in the interest of not spooking him, he has agreed to read it, I am letting the lack of discussion lie for the moment. Maybe there will be some response at the end of Part I? I will just have to wait and see.
As for Part II, writings going well. Once again, I had some wonderful brainstorms in the shower yesterday (about an hour before I had to leave for my sister's birthday dinner: Hi, Taylor) and so very quickly went to the computer to pour everything out onto the page. I had been a bit worried that after a few days spent rewriting and proofing Part I my mind would have trouble shifting focus back to producing new material, but low and behold it was ready and raring for the task and the words have been flowing nicely ever since. I hate to walk away from the computer today, but I have to actually pretend to be a housewife for awhile and take care of the banalities of life. I've also promised myself a trip to the gym, once I noticed that too many days in front of the computer were causing spider veins...eww! So I need to get the blood flowing to clear out my circulatory system and the cobwebs in my brain. Who knows, I might have some great inspiration on the elliptical. God I love that thing! J.A.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Busy Busy Busy

The last week has been slow, but productive. I have finished the first five chapters of the new book along with two rounds of rewrites. In the end I'm left with something quite good, though I'm not entirely sure anymore after re-reading so many times I've probably memorized it by now.

It is now time to move on to the next section of the book which revolves around travel and the revelatory power of a journey. I figured the best thing to do was to review great travel sagas: Heart of Darkness, Lord of the Rings, even Peter Pan all of which give detailed reactions to new environments and foreign geographies. Walking that razor's edge between describing a setting enough to allow the reader to follow your thinking and boring said reader to death with too much detail is on the agenda next week. I'm focusing as much as possible on emotional response and connection to new landscapes (as someone who studied Landscape Archaeology (yes, that is a real course) it should be a piece of cake, right?). I like the idea of making the geography a character, but it may not be terribly appropriate at this point (maybe in the rewrites).

In other news, I'm taking the big leap this week and allowing my husband to read what I've been working on this past month or so. You have to understand that he is a physicist and computer scientist and as such is incredibly terse and practical. He also does not believe in my 'overly descriptive and sentimental writing technique.' In other words, he thinks I write like a girl. Not the most sympathetic audience. So, showing him anything forces me to prepare for an onslaught of criticism and let's face it, who wants her husband to tell her she should give up (not that I would). Brace yourselves people, next week could bring tears!

Any helpful advice or words of encouragement would be gratefully received. J.A.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Back From the Back of Beyond

I've just returned from an extended trip to visit the family. I took along a draft of the first five chapters to review and rework, but needless to say, in all the confusion of what turned out to be a most terrible series of events (including many hospital visits) I barely opened the plastic cover I'd lovingly created before I left. Usually I like to take these obstacles and adventures as opportunities for creative exploration, but today after assessing my emotional fatigue I can barely stare at this screen without falling asleep or breaking down into senseless tears. I'm just tired. After a week's vacay from the writing wagon, I've been itching to jump back in, but the brain is not cooperating. I feel unsettled and unsteady and these are never good places for me to work from; my thoughts are too scattered and shifting.
I did start reading Tender is the Night in between trips to the hospital. I've always loved Fitzgerald's turn of phrase and so far I'm even more in love now than I ever was with Damned or Gatsby. I'm still not sure why his characters are so young, though perhaps this has something to do with the autobiography of it all. For me, it's hard to imagine such young people being so complex. I mean, can you name a 19 year old today who would have the self-possession and awareness of Rosemary or the distant disturbance of Nicole (only 24). I myself am breathing down the neck of 30 and even with years of travel and exposure to "the rest of the world," I don't think I am half as comfortable with myself as these people, half of whom are mentally ill. Maybe that's just me. J.A.