Thursday, November 20, 2008

Grass is greener

I've done a truly risky thing; I started a journal to take notes on my second novel.

Perhaps this is a symptom of the burnout I referred to earlier. Perhaps it's a form of late-onset senioritis--fear of crossing the finishing line, prefering to daydream about the future instead of doing the work that will get me there. But after several weeks of hard work on my rewrite, I am suddenly super sensitive to any interruption and unable to really do the work I know is waiting for me.

Meanwhile, I've been having fantasies of what it will be like to make another attempt at a novel using all that I've learned during the process of writing this one. It started with just a vague sense that I had learned a lot and that the next one will go better, and it has germinated increasingly into speculation about what that will look like.

I don't really have any ideas about a subject or story--at least, none that I'm serious about. It's more ideas about voice and ambition. My first novel is, characteristically, a first novel. It has a certain controlled quality to it. In some ways, I don't feel like it fully represents me as a writer. It represents my work as an apprentice novelist.

I'm having trouble describing what I mean, and it sounds like I'm disappointed in this book, and that's not the case. I still have high hopes for how strong it's going to get in the next revision.

I mean that I feel I'm capable of a different scope of work, which might also be a larger scope of work. A voice that is different and possibly more of some quality (lively? playful?) and, by implication, better. I feel like when a subject does come to me that I won't need to shy away from it because now I'll have the confidence that I can corral it and make a narrative out of it, and so I naturally wonder if it ought to be a bigger subject.

So I started a notebook, which traditionally for me has been a way of distracting myself from what I ought to be doing. It has been a bad habit. I have cabinets full of notebooks with only the first three pages written in them, introducing the start of big projects that keep me up all night fantasizing about artistic homeruns. Not a sin in itself, except that I have a novel I'm supposing to be finishing meanwhile. I can't let myself get so excited about some future project that the current one seems to boring to bother with. Gut it out!

So far, my new notebook is a lot of reflection about what kinds of literature have been important to me and what kinds of things I would like to achieve as an artist. I feel like writing in that right now instead of doing any kind of work. It's more fun.

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