With a dull thud, the finished first draft lands on the kitchen table, all 272 pages of it. On the one hand, it’s an enormous relief, and a definite joy, but on the other hand it’s an empty space in my heart. I could feel the vacuum encroaching as I developed the ‘last’ scene which extended into 2000 words (most of my scenes have been about a thousand, for a day’s work of writing). Even special titivating to make the ms pretty to look at, and then careful printing of the whole thing, to fit neatly into a nice white heavy cardboard box, did not assuage this emerging tristesse.
Although the recriminations are as near as my pillow, I did have another little epiphany as I reflected over the entire effort. I’ve been trying to interpolate stories after stories, in a variety of styles, into the novel, and the ms has utilised some ageing literary devices. In particular, one we encountered in Writing Group is one that Charles Dickens used to great effect: : the rule of threes. Without giving too much away to my beta readers, I realised that, unconsciously, I had incorporated a double set of threes into the whole, which may or may not be felicitous. Meanwhile, I’m still totally in love with the concept that you can tell a story in such a vast array of styles.
Anyway, after setting the printer away, I did manage to finish another heavy gardening job, which involved picking up all the scattered twigs from my hedge trimming exercises. I’d started that tidying effort with a rake and heavy gloves, but I found the constant bending over was just too challenging. So yesterday afternoon, in a prayerful approach to the task, I picked up all the remaining twigs on my hands and knees. No bending over when you’re already on the ground! So that was a lovely, if humble, finish to the working day.
And then, for my personal relaxation, thanks to the kindness of our dear neighbour, I revisited the new Dune DVD, and I was able to listen carefully to the development of the story. Such a lovely recapitulation of the first of those beloved books.
And so my cup was filled, yesterday, even as the excess spilled over and ran down the sides of the goblet like so many wanton tears.
A new project will emerge soon enough, and there’s the nervy excitement of waiting for the beta judgements to come, anyway.