Friday was a horrible horrible writing day. The sort of day that starts bright and shiny and has you racing through your shower to get to your computer, where you open to the chapter in progress, put your fingers to the keys ...
... and become overcome by some form of writer-narcolepsy. You are suddenly so tired you have to put your laptop on the floor and snake into a armchair-and-ottamon-appropriate napping position which is made ever more frustrating by the knowledge that you ABSOLUTELY CAN NOT NAP WHILE WRITING!!!
Two hours into this I called my husband and went for a drive, hoping he would Fix My Book. This is a conversation I have ALL THE TIME, mostly with myself: How do I fix my book? I bothered asking my husband this time b/c he's been nagging me to let him help me, b/c he did actually pull it all together for me one night over ceviche a few months before the wedding, at which point I realized I really should marry him, b/c not only did he love me but he Got My Work. His nagging me lately to let him help me (again) is a little like my father telling my mother the two of them ought to get cracking on their mother's eulogies--this despite the fact that both mothers in questions are in great form for 80-pluses. I think my father's impulse has a lot to do with the fact that he delivered THE BEST EVER Daddy-of-the-bride speech this summer-- no seriously, it wasn't just me that thought so--and he liked the spotlight. He wants to pull it out again, and no venue is too depressing, it appears.
ANYWAY. Friday drive was not a success. My fears were I had lost "the point": what was I trying to say? Dave kept saying, "I thought you had a theme," and I kept saying, "Theme doesn't matter, what the fuck is going on with my CHARACTER, WHY does this story have to be told, and why now?"
He wasn't helpful. I was depressed Friday night and Saturday that once again after a few weeks of digging in and really working, all had come to what felt like a project-ending grinding stop.
And then today I actually read the NYTBR from cover to cover, and here is what they said:
Some people take forever to write books.
And, in a review for "Joy Comes in the Morning," which I now intend to rush out and get, they quoted Talmudic scholar Ben Bag Bag (tell me there isn't at least a short story in his name alone): "Turn it and turn it for everything is in it."
And I thought, back in the day when I wrote the play that was in some ways an expression of this book, Anna's problem was LETTING GO, because this was a woman who felt she had been so often LEFT.
So, the WHY AND WHEN OF THIS STORY ARE: Anna has recently had another assignation with her old lover Marcus, now a husband-and-father-of-twins. This despite the fact that she thinks she's in love with Danny, and wants very much to have a real life with him. But for over a decade she's held on to Marcus, despite the fact that so much of their relationship has been under cover of darkness/moral mud. So, that night alone in Falcon Ridge, she can't sleep b/c she feels badly about fucking M., and she ends up at Hart, where she relives the start of their affair for much of the book. Then, we learn she and he kept it going for many years, on and off, despite their life changes, and despite her knowing it wouldn't or shouldn't work, b/c to her the CRIME OF HEART is LEAVING, that you STAY NO MATTER WHAT (b/c she has abandonment issues due to mom & dad). Even seeing Lasky and Rita in New Haven that time, and later, seeing they'd married, and knowing that would never be the right choice for her, she has always held on. At the end of the book, she confesses to Olivia that Danny even has a ring for her (he's peripheral for much of the book). HER BIG LESSON: You have to let go of that "grand romance," see it for what it is, in order to grow up and have a real life of your own.
Anyway, THIS at least makes sense to me, and gives me the juice of: what happens when they actually act on this promise they made when she was 17, that no matter what, despite everything, wives and lovers, every once in awhile, they would still meet? It lets me throw her under a truck, so to speak, and lets me complicate her, show how her moral view is not so goody-two-shoes black-and-white.
Today I am going to a bookstore and buying things I read about in the NYTBR (gotta give SOMETHING back, right) and picking up some Booker books ... And tonight I have the first meeting of Writing Group #2. So tomorrow, back to the office with a bang bang bang (and it even means I can get great if slightly dark sex into the PROLOGUE of the book!)