Wednesday, June 9, 2010
I sat with my old photographs, my boxes of books, my research. I sat with all 240-plus pages half on my lap, half on the floor. I sat, and I'm glad that I couldn't see my own face. Frustration? Bewilderment? Exhaustion? All three? You're all washed up, Kephart, I said.
But then last night I slept a little (sleep is something else, I tell you), and when I woke I knew just what the problem was, a problem I should have discerned at once (this is me writing, I reminded myself, me, with the same built-in flaws, the same go-to tendencies, the same great love for landscape and sky when the point is, the point is, the story). I threw pages away, pages and pages. I was ruthless with every excess word. I blue penned the book like its life depends on blue penning, and, in fact, it does. The pace is back on. The tension has tightened. So much more is at stake. I'm losing sentences like I always do. I'm holding onto a new kind of story.
Novels get harder as we push ourselves beyond what we know, my friend Alyson Hagy wrote to me earlier today, after listening to me go on about this book I won't give up on. She's almost always right, my friend, Alyson. She's definitely wiser than I am. Because even though I've been writing this book for almost all of my published writing life, it is the book I've not known how to write, the book I've had to grow into.