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On Writing

OK, this is another one of those cases when I am procrastinating from the writing project I ought to be working on, so I will make this Owl about writing and its phases.  Over Thanksgiving, I wrote a great deal on my novel, and sorted out a number of setting details working on the floor plans of the school where it takes place. I’ve written 60K words but am feeling the need to pause now and take stock.  Traveling, sleeping badly in strange beds, bad air on the airplanes, and a few mistakes in eating left me weak and sick for a few days.  I still feel off balance but also still feel I am getting some good work done on the book.  Only a few hours today, but that’s better than nothing.    While procrastinating and writing this blog entry, I was interrupted by a friend on the phone.  I don’t mind, but such interruptions seem typical of my day.  That’s life.  In the pre-telephone days friends would have just come to call and one would have either arranged to have tea or lunch by letter or else one would have to drop what one is doing to entertain them.

Every incident of life, every conversation with friends or strangers shapes one’s story — both one’s autobiography and one’s fictional storytelling.  In a very black mood after going to a play Tuesday night, I fought off a deep depression by lying still and breathing and my heroine, Emily Glass, came to me in my mind and pleaded with me not to give up on life for her sake.  Not only my own daughter but this daughter of my mind see me as absolutely necessary for their story to unfold.  A flesh-and-blood daughter would carry on living, however changed by my absence, but a character whose story is unfolding in my own act of writing it, sees me in another light.  Dorothy Sayers made this very nice analogy between God and the author of a book.  She said that we experience our lives moving through time as a character in a book would do, but that God sees us as the author would — able to skip over parts of the timeline, to move back and forth in flashbacks or foreshadowings that the character in their world cannot see.  But the magical consciousness is precisely the ability to enter the mind of the Creator, at least partially, and see our lives from that Eternal standpoint.  To the Author the whole book lies open before the eyes in the present moment.  To the character living the story, its pattern and resolutions are unclear.  We can, living life, only have inklings of how our troubles and the setbacks we encounter may lead to the resolution of a story arc.  Only when our biography has been written will the themes become clear and when we pass beyond the veil of flesh, we too will see our whole life story laid out as the Author intended it.

So, for Emily, I rise up again another day, to write her life story.  No doubt the psychologists would say she is a part of me, perhaps my own Anima, my soul-image.  But to me she is Emily and indeed I identify with her father in the story.

So, on to laying out the threads of story.

Owl

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