I had come to a decision. It was for my own good. It was clear and it was obvious. I was wasting my time, focusing on the wrong thing, or at least a thing that wasn’t paying off. I kept thinking it would get better or make sense or achieve critical mass or something, but it wasn’t, and I was deceiving myself thinking otherwise. I was putting a lot of effort into something that was just stalled.
So I made my decision. I was going to abandon work on Larger than Life and get on with my own life. The novel just wasn’t coming together. Too much of it wasn’t “revealing” itself to me. I wasn’t ready to write it. I didn’t understand the character well enough. Maybe I never would. And to keep plugging away at it was a big waste of time, especially since I have a whole bunch of Finnegan novels queued up, waiting for my attention. (Finnegan: my husband and wife cozy mystery novel series — though I’m not sure how well they fit into that category.) No, Larger than Life was at an end; a worthy effort, but a fruitless one in the end.
So to begin the new year I was going to put Larger than Life aside and embark on Finnegans Deciphered, my personal favorite among the many stories I’ve imagined for them. It was to be a fresh start at the new year on a new project that promised to be fruitful and lend itself to my creative energies (whatever they may be).
Finnegans Deciphered is a good story. I’ve written about it on this blog in some distant posts that are too distant for me to bother finding and linking to. It makes some nice literary references, it has some complex but credible characters, it has a nice and reasonable resolution of the tension, and I’ve been wanting to work on it for months and months.
I steered my thoughts to it, and I found all kinds of fresh ideas for its development and writing flowing through my fingers and onto the page or keyboard. It was coming along nicely, and I found that my notes file for the novel was just as thorough and comprehensive as I had remembered it to be. Finnegans Deciphered was one novel that was ready to be written. Green light: go!
Except that Larger than Life was not going to yield.
A friend once told me that you can recognize your good ideas by the fact that they won’t go away. Larger than Life won’t go away. It is as though by making the decision to “abandon” it, I have brought the novel to even more vitality in my pointed little head. Ideas for how to surmount plot problems are now bursting in my brain. The consequences of this or that character issue or plot point are revealing themselves to me apace. I’m seeing whole new chapters where I hadn’t before, chapters that needed to be there from the start, characters that I needed but didn’t know I needed. The whole theme of the novel has transformed in recent weeks. It seems that Larger than Life is not finished with me though I thought I was finished with it.
So I will not abandon it after all I guess.
It’s still going to be a long, difficult struggle to write this novel. That much is clear if nothing else is. My characters and their interactions are complicated, and in order to get them right, I’m going to have to toil and sweat and work and work and work. I don’t mind that, but it’s like learning that your child has some untoward talent that now must be dealt with.
So how am I going to live my days? I’m not sure. I certainly will continue to struggle with Larger than Life, but I do want to put some effort to Finnegans Deciphered. I’m not sure how I’m going to do this or even if it is wise to try. But I am sure that it will make for an interesting new year.
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I finished the Iris Murdoch novel The Book and the Brotherhood before the end of the year, which was a goal of mine. I loved the novel, and I suspect I will return to it again someday.
I’m now reading Fortress of Solitude by Jonathan Lethem on my Kindle and liking it a lot. I especially like the narrative voice. It reminds me a bit of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. I’m not sure about this whole eReader experience though. It works, but is it the same experience as holding an actual book in your hands?
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Oh, happy 2011 to all of you fine folk!