The weekend before Christmas, a blizzard outside, some fool runs a snowblower — a Sisyphean effort before the snow stops falling and drifting — and it reminds me of my efforts to write during the month of December. A poet friend commented that he’s so distracted and restless from the holidays that he can’t write. A reminder that writers need quiet time to think, to coax out their imagination’s voice, and to listen.
Another reminder of the need for time in the January 2009 issue of The Writer: an article in the front section about the pressure established writers feel to write a book a year. Most buck the pressure in deference to quality of ideas and writing. But the pressure still remains. Unless you’re James Patterson who has several co-authors with whom he works to produce one or more novels a year, undoubtedly making his publisher very happy. I’ve not read a Patterson novel, and I wonder how formulaic they are. As a reader, I’d rather wait for a favorite writer to take the time to write something with care and character development.
Also in the same issue of The Writer and the same section was a brief article about using “Second Life,” the online site where people have avatars and live a fantasy life, for book promotion and readings. It’s still in its infancy but I think this is an intriguing idea and could save thousands of dollars in travel costs. My avatar as me could give a reading of Perceval for other avatars whose “real people” might then decide they would like a copy of the book and click on the Amazon.com link to buy it. Brilliant.
The title Perceval has been nagging at me this week. I’m no longer completely happy with it, and have thought of a couple alternatives. One is Perceval’s Secret. This alternative came to me months ago and continues to ferment in my imagination. A more recent alternative is Perceval Before the War which I think may be a more intriguing title. It shows that Perceval is a person, and something happens with him before the war, and which war? The more questions a title raises in a potential reader’s mind, the more interested the reader is in the story. I’m still thinking about it….
Lots of thinking time this week as I’ve encountered long lines nearly everywhere I’ve gone, and spent an hour waiting for a city bus in a snow storm earlier in the week. My mind has gravitated to a memoir idea that I’ve been nurturing the last few months. The idea for the first chapter popped into my head this week and surprised me. Plus, the voice of the idea surprised me, too — wry. I liked it. And I liked the first chapter idea. I’ve already started writing notes for this book and I’m beginning to have the familiar feeling that I need to sketch a preliminary outline.
On a sad marketing note, I received a form rejection letter from the magazine I’d submitted “The Shadow” to earlier in the month. Ah, well. I’d begun a list of possible markets for the novel excerpt, so now all I need do is submit it to the next one on the list after New Year’s.
I am looking forward to an entire day devoted to reading a novel on Christmas….