how I write, and a small scene from Berlin

Thursday, January 19, 2012

At work on a new novel set in Berlin for Tamra Tuller of Philomel, I stop (breath held) to read the first 75 pages through. I return to photographs. I skinny things down, reverse the order of scenes, change the sound of a voice, then (breathing again) write forward.

It is the way it goes.  The going back to move ahead.  The shaving away to make room.  All the way through the writing a novel I am held in suspense.  Can it be?  Will it?

I think it can.  I hope it will.  But it is one page at a time, and, often, it is disappearing pages. I hold onto scenes like this:

The Turks have been out since dawn, the Gastarbeiters.  The caravans are busy, the little corner shops, the wood smoke piles, the minced lamb man and the dill weed man and the lady who sells the sesame kuver.   The air is a mix-up of factory bells and machine scree, the wide wallop of Arabelle’s bike wheels across the cobblestone streets, the songs of the Chaotens and the wind in the plane trees.  The cars are pissed, the buses are crowded, the U-bahn chinks on its rails.  When we finally hit the platz, Arabelle takes her big booted feet off the pedals and conks her legs out straight, letting her coat catch the wind.  She hee-haws like a donkey.
“Safe again!” she says.


Christine Danek said...

I really enjoyed this. So true about the Turks. I was in Berlin 14 years ago and it still sticks out in my mind. The Turks would sell their things under the Brandenburg Gate and when the police would drive through, they'd quickly bundle everything up and scatter.

Lilian Nattel said...

I can see that and it made me smile.

Mandy said...

It's always fun to read your work in progress posts, Beth. Thanks for sharing! :)

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