Thursday, November 08, 2007

Journal of a "Novel"-Entry 39

One Milestone is Here Now, Another Approaches

This edition of the journal is being written on November 7, 2007, which happens to be my 37th birthday. Thirty-seven on the seventh, in the seventh year of this millennium. Is this a positive omen? We can hope so. I may end up posting this on a later date, but I'm writing it on November 7, so it is on the actual day I was born. For those paying attention, by the way, it's also the day my cohort on this blog, Duke, was born, since we're idential twins. So: happy birthday Duke! Nice to cross the line on another year with you.

Since this is ostensibly a journal that marks progress on my 'novel', tentatively titled Only the Dying, it is good to report here today that as of yesterday, or November 6, I finished writing the draft of Chapter IV, 'A Lawyer's Return, Life After Death'. For those keeping the stats (I like to pretend that I have a whole crew working on this project, when it's really just me that's responsible), I started writing the chapter on July 20 and finished on November 6, so it has been another grueling 14 weeks or so on this chapter alone. Also, as I am now typing the chapter up and watching it grow, it looks as though instead of getting more streamlined, my chapters are only getting longer. Unless I edit more extensively than I have done in the past, this one will be my longest chapter yet. At first this bothered me, since I always envisioned that I would have 12-15 chapters in this novel. After I complete this one, it looks like the draft of the entire novel to this point is already going to be close to 300 pages! It seems way too long to me. But, as I was commenting to Duke recently, I cannot worry about that now. I would much rather have too much to work with than too little, and I have to get the story out of me. I can worry about more cuts when I have a complete draft of Only the Dying in front of me. Furthermore, I know of at least one novel that I have great admiration for, Edward P. Jones' the Known World, that has lengthy chapters, and that didn't seem to weigh his novel down. On the contrary: it went on to win the Pulitzer Prize. Not making any predictions, of course, but the point is that long chapters didn't mar his book.

So, I would say that in general, far from being concerned, I am very pleased with the progress of the novel so far on the story side of it. I feel immersed in the material, and I feel as though I have a strong sense of that bygone Hoosier world, or more correctly of that world as I imagine it to have been. I am not as pleased about the laconic speed at which I am working, but it is true that I have never worked quickly on much of anything, and certainly not anything literary. It is not simple for me to find the required time to write and rewrite. I am not in a good position to neglect my responsibilities to other things, nor would I ever want to. Indeed, there are more reasons than ever for me now to be a responsible and realistic adult while chasing down my dreams. (See note below.)

Nonetheless, I do want to be a novelist, there's no hiding that fact, and as I turn 37 today, at least I can say I am working steadily towards that difficult goal. I have to date drafted one Prologue and four chapters of a novel. It's the best progress I have made towards this goal in all 37 of those years. I hope to write about 6-9 more chapters, give or take, and an Epilogue of some kind before I am done. A long time ago, I gave myself until I was 40 to have my first novel in the can. I thought that seemed reasonable. As I hit 37, I don't know if I will reach this milestone, but I do know and am proud to say that I have made measurable progress.

One other note. I have recently learned that in addition to my two daughters, age 4 and almost 2, my wife and I will soon be welcoming a third child into the world. My new son or daughter is due to arrive around May 31, 2008. I'd better get as much writing in as I can now! I want to achieve my dreams so that I may demonstrate to my new child as well as my other children that dreams are attainable with hard work. May God bless all my children, for it is for their sake that I intend to better myself in matters of art and of faith.

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