The Way It Is, November 9, 2011

Coin showing the Roman god JanusIt wasn’t an unusually dull day, the kind where I want to go stand blindfolded in traffic, bitch-slap a mother bear in front of her cubs, run for Congress, anything, as long as it isn’t sitting here job searching. I mean, today was normally dull, or wait…no, it was a little better than that. I drove downtown and located an address where I had an appointment with a woman who owns a small marketing agency, and who talked as if she would give me some writing work. It surely would have been an even better day if I had not gotten the day wrong. No one was in their offices. But next week, now that ought to be a good day, when I actually do have an appointment.

Since I have begun this bright epistle with the sort of ambivalent but not totally negative incident that passes for positive in my life, I’ll add two more incidents, similarly vague, somewhat encouraging, bringing light like flipping on the switch in a cheap motel room. I called a woman at the university press this morning, someone who works with journals, and she is happy to have more freelance copy editors. Later I called the president of the fire department of a small village nearby, after I noticed that they have no website. He invited me to come to a meeting one evening next week to make my case for creating a site for them. And the owner of a site that I’m already working on called today to tell me he approves of what I’ve done so far. So woohoo! Major advances today on the labor front.

Therefore, come to think of it, with so much excitement going on today, it’s a wonder I sat down at all. I spent the rest of the afternoon on the internet, looking at vacation sites in the south of France, trying to decide where to go when all that money starts rolling in. Plus I’ll go up to paying as much as $8 a bottle for wine, and $9 on holidays.

And as though it were whipped cream flavored with Napoleon brandy, topping off such a cake of a day, this evening I have the inexpressible, the irrepressible, the incompressible delight of—are you ready?—working on a novel. I pause to give you a moment to compose yourself, as waves of jealous longing roll over you. I know, I know, but we can’t all be weird loners sitting night after night staring at a computer screen, putting words where there were none before, for a reason that even God could not figure out.

The novel is still nameless, though I’ve begun running bad options through my mind. Because Benedict and Miramar are simultaneously traveling both east and west, I keep seeing an image of the Roman god Janus, who had two faces looking in opposite directions. It’s not as if that’s useful information. I figure if I use the name Janus anywhere in the title, people will look at it and say, “Whaaa?” and keep walking.

I’ve passed 110 pages and temporarily stopped forward progress. Though I’m enjoying extending the events of the book, the feeling has grown that what has already been written is calling me for attention. Those characters want some filling out, want to know who they are. Thus I’m revising, and I’m finding it so much more fun, filling in things that should have been filled in before, like background.

Here’s something I have learned: although Benedict works as a handyman, he went to college. Did he graduate? I don’t know. And where did he go to school? I don’t know that either. Let’s decide that right here, while writing the blog, and then it will go into the book. Unless it gets edited out, of course. My inclination is that he did graduate, because he’s a serious reader, with a bachelors of something not all that fruitful in terms of procuring an income. Humanities, in other words. So Benedict graduated with a BA in Liberal Arts. That’s the kind of major that says “I went to college, I’m smart enough, and I’m not trained to do anything.”

As to where he went to school, that’s harder. I think it would have been somewhere not too far from home (I don’t know why I think this, except that he had a bad relationship with his mother, though that isn’t much of a reason, is it?). And I don’t even know where he was born. I’ll say Vermont. I did a writing residency in Vermont a couple of years ago, so I’ll use that. Hmm, and there’s a college there too, in the village where I was at, Johnson State College, a small place up on the hill where the cell phone signal works, in case you need to call someone back in Pennsylvania.

This week I’ve also learned that Benedict had a girlfriend in college, that he read a Persian poet, and that he and his wife watched The Rocky Horror Picture Show together. And I need to get back in there and add that he attended Johnson State College.

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Filed under Giving Birth to a Book (That's Why I'm Screaming), Writing While Living

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