Monday, May 15, 2006

Journal of a "Novel"-Entry 15

Slow Going

Work on the first draft of the Prologue for my "novel" in development, as yet unnamed, proceeds at a snail's pace, unfortunately, but at least it is still moving. But it's slow going and none of the progress that I have made on it, maybe 25 handwritten pages or so, has come easily for me at all. Part of it is just the nature of my life at the present moment: two small children, one a toddler, one still a baby; both of whom have been ill recently, although they're getting better; some recent travels; my own bout with a massive cold, etc. It doesn't add up to much time to write, but I try to squeeze in what really amounts to about 30-50 minutes' worth per attempt. That's not very much. It's going to take more sustained effort than that to write a novel, I know that without question; but at the same time, I just take whatever I can get. It's better than nothing, and it sure beats giving up.

Another thing is that it is hard to attempt to create a believable dialogue/relationship between an elderly priest and a young journalist/student who also happens to be female, if you're sitting where I'm sitting. I'm not really in the know as to how an older priest would react to a young female and I'm definitely not in the know as to how a young female would react to an old priest, or anything else for that matter; but then again, this is the job at hand. So I am doing my best with it. What I want to do is create a believable situation in which Father Luke Brogan is confronted with a situation he isn't used to, from a source that throws him off-guard, to his own discomfort, and experiences an unexpected result. The 'unexpected result' to which I refer is the desire to tell his father's story, which will lead me to the novel itself, as yet unstarted.

It will be interesting to try to complete the Prologue and rewrite it a bit. I would say that despite the slow progress, I am about 3/4 done with what I envision to be the Prologue. I don't want it to be very long and it's probably too long now as it is. I am messing around with the idea of posting an excerpt, which my brother and TST founder Duke Altum has suggested that I do, not without some provocation. IF I do that, which is definitely still in question, it will not be long, because I don't want to give it all away and I don't want to be sharing too much if I don't even have the story off the ground. We'll see. I think it is sort of lumbering along, the writing is tentative, and I suppose you might say I don't feel limber yet and don't have much momentum going on this novel idea. That's ok. I just want to persist and see what I can get down. I think if any momentum develops, it is going to be later on. But I know enough to know I have to slog through the tough parts to get to the parts that flow. If you don't hang in there when it's tough, you'll never write anything. In other words, I think I can get to something better than what I am doing now, but there is only one way through it. Persistence is key. I wish I could find a way to put in more time in each session. Sometimes I get ready, set up some coffee, sit down, pick up the pencil, and the baby cries on cue. But this is the way it is, and even a novel doesn't come before your own child. Hell no. So, I am just going to keep making the effort when I can and believe in the possibility of this thing taking off.

Critical Meeting

On the weekend of June 9-11, 2006, I also plan to get together solo with my old man, at a hotel suite in Pennsylvania, strictly to discuss his father and details of his childhood in the Depression. It should be very interesting indeed. I have talked with him a lot about both subjects, of course, but this will probably be - or should be - the most detailed conversation we have on such matters, unless we wander off onto other things. I told my Dad repeatedly that I am going to pick his brain as much as I can. It's a great opportunity for me. My Dad's 75 years old, and while luckily he is in relatively good health, he won't be here forever. This is going to be imporant, first-hand recollections. I wonder exactly how he feels about all of this, because as far as he's concerned there is no real reason to think that all of it will lead to anything, but he seems quite game. I am sure he will be pleased to talk about his father and what he remembers. What father wouldn't want to tell those things? I hope to learn a lot about his day-to-day life in the 30s and 40s - to the extent that he can remember - and about the specific details regarding Floyd Lovell. Hopefully it will help me form a clearer impression of a character that is still pretty hazy in my mind's eye.

Oh, and one other thing. We went around the horn for weeks and weeks trying to find the right dates to get together, and finally settled on June 9-11. And it was only after that that we both realized that June 9 was Floyd Lovell's birthday. Accident??? If he were still alive, he would be 103 on June 9, 2006.


Duke Altum said...

An awesome coincidence, that, to be sure... and of course, longstanding readers/fans of Mutt's work will remember that he & his Dad were also in the process of making their famous trek through Indiana seven years ago on that same date, as chronicled in Mutt's classic travelogue A Father I Am. Guess it all comes around full circle.

Well, you certainly gain some insight from these journal entries into what an incredible challenge it is to try and write a novel, especially with very young children... how anyone has ever been able to pull this off, while holding a full-time job as well, is beyond me. You can see why Mutt keeps saying to himself, "Persistence is key." That is literally the only way he is going to get anything done on this. I can surely relate to sitting down for that rare moment of quiet and trying to work on something, only to have a kid start crying... attempting to balance one's responsibilities and obligations as a parent, which of course are non-negotiables, with one's inner drive to create something meaningful is a very tricky manuever indeed. You find out very early on why it is so rarely pulled off successfully.

But, as Mutt's been saying all along, that's not to say it's not well worth trying. In the trying itself, a lot of growing and strengthening of one's inner life is achieved, first of all. And secondly, the very real possibility is always out there that something beautiful and meaningful and worth holding on to will result. One needs some God-given talent to create such a thing, and I happen to know from experience that Mutt has that... although to what degree, who can say. I don't think even he would know. But we can all hope and pray and anticipate that his efforts will produce some fruit that will be worth tasting, even savoring. I personally think his persistence is going to pay off in some way, shape or form. It won't matter, in a way (though of course it will to Mutt to some degree, understandably), how many people do get a chance to savor that fruit... the numbers never indicate the true worth of such things. True art makes a loud bang in the forest when it falls to earth, whether there are people around to hear it or not!

Aura McKnightly said...

I think it all depends on what kind of fruit you're talking about.