Monday, September 23, 2013

piecemeal

I may title my book that. Piecemeal. First Google definition to pop says: Characterized by unsystematic partial measures taken over a period of time.

That is my book exactly. I have twenty minutes of naptime quiet so I open one of my stories "Melanie Revised" - its working title to signal the character and that this file is the one I'm supposed to be revising - and make it a few paragraphs before my daughter asks for paper. She knows where the paper is and I launch into a The Necessity of Quiet Time tirade that ends with her drawing princesses quietly and me crying because I'll never finish this book.

I've read Stephen King's book On Writing a few times and right now I am trying to remember that he wrote stories in his laundry room, a typewriter balanced on his knees. I'm at a desk, standing on a doubled yoga mat, two  kids in the rooms behind me.

I'm trying to remember all the writing book gurus who say: Go to the page, Show up, Write. So I do. And eventually it will result in a book that might look like the sediment lines in a rock. I'll know this story was drafted spring and summer of 2012, with my creative writing students sitting around my classroom table and, later, at my in-laws' kitchen table after the kids were in bed. I'll know this story came from a dream four years ago and I wrote it with anger I didn't understand. I'll know this story started five years ago and took new shapes when I revisited the characters a yearly intervals. This book, whenever it finally shows up, might not have solid color or texture. I worry about that.

But look at my haphazard approach: it yields scattered work. This January I want to lay out my stories and essays - promising drafts and finished revisions - and see the sediment lines. See how the pieces group. Right now, I can't see that. I'll keep writing piecemeal.