Tuesday, January 05, 2010

“The time has come,” the Walrus said, “to talk of many things. Of shoes and ships and sealing wax, of cabbages and kings…”

After what has really been a lifetime of preparation, with a more intensely-focused period these past fifteen months, my time has come. Nothing quite as grandiose as Lewis Carroll’s “cabbages and kings,” but my time to create. I am ready to set aside all the books, all the studying, reading, researching and dissecting the words of others and immerse myself in a story of my own making. It’s time to write my thesis.

So many have asked recently, “What is your thesis about?” “How can you write that many words?” and the ultimate enthusiasm-damper: “Why?” In an effort to answer those questions, and many others often of my own making, I’ve decided to record my progress in this blog format. It will also serve as a journal of my work that will make my final evaluation of the process easier to write.

Because my graduate school program is in creative writing rather than, say, education or computer technology, I will not be producing a traditional thesis based on an in-depth study of the work of others with an occasional original thought thrown in to satisfy academia. Rather, I am writing a novel, literary mystery if one must apply a label. The initial rough draft was completed in 2005 during the masochistic National Novel Writing Month exercise. It’s been languishing at just over 50,000 words ever since. I resurrected the manuscript for last summer’s Antioch Writer’s Workshop and found, surprisingly (to me at least), that much of it is pretty good. A lot of it is pretty bad, too, but that is what I will be working on for the next six months.

The radical rewriting and editing will require all of the skills I have studied in-depth during the earlier quarters of this program. I have practiced writing dialogue and narrative, scenes and character sketches. I have read massive amounts of 20th century literature to compliment the two years I spent reading the Classics. And I have gleaned the rules of good fiction writing. More importantly, I have learned how and when to break those rules, as so many have before me, and I am eager to begin this next stage of my journey.

Yesterday, after a rough start, I began searching through my manuscript for character details and today I finished creating the spreadsheet which will serve as my roadmap. Every person is listed; the timeline is detailed; the settings are in order. This afternoon I pulled out all the comments from fellow AWW workshop participants (which I have deliberately avoided reading until this stage) and made notes, remembering the admonishment to take what works and leave the rest.

Tomorrow I begin writing. I’ll record my progress in these pages for those who are interested and as an assist to my overloaded memory banks. I may share a scene or two as the mood strikes. But above all, finally, I will write.

My time has come.

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