Thursday, March 23, 2006

It's like you've never written a word

I took a week (maybe more, I forget) off from writing my novel to work on a new short story. Of course I wanted to get away from my novel. But the other perfectly reasonable excuse is that I thought I was going to have to quit writing, pretty much, for three months because I was going to be teaching two courses in addition to working--so the thought was I would do little sporadic projects like short stories, instead of trying to maintain daily contact with the novel. BUT. My Continuing Studies course at Stanford got canceled, which pained me quite a bit more than I expected it would. I was really looking forward to a different kind of teaching and I'd been planning the course for nearly a year. On the other hand it would have been a ton of work and now I'm seeing the upside of not doing it. Mainly, I can keep writing.

I now face the prospect of returning to the novel after, let's say, 10 days. Robert Olen Butler, henceforth to be referred to as R.O.B. (aka G.O.D.) says that if you miss more than two days in a row it's as if you never wrote a word. And the novel does feel quite unfamiliar at the moment. For a few days there the distance was really nice; I was no longer mired in it, so I could float above and see the whole thing. I remembered what I wanted the novel to feel like and took some notes about tone that I thought were important at the time. But that was last week. Now I'm afraid I'll go back and see that the whole thing is a disaster, and slink off to short-story safety again. Must resist.

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