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Red Letter Day

From the Archives (my diary, dated May 13 th 2023)

Today I finished a first draft of New Rock New Roads.
It’s like emerging out of a sausage machine that has been beating the crap
out of me for a year and a half.
And there’s nowhere I’d rather have been, in all that time.
Thrown around. Battered and confused. Wondering what the hell?? Looking
here, there and everywhere for the truth of the story. Throwing out scores of pages.
Backtracking. Junking ideas and plot-lines that led nowhere. Staring into abyss
after abyss. Never knowing if I’d get here.
Because you never can know.
How could you?
Like anything that any writer is writing: it hasn’t been written yet.
If you’d written it already, it would be easy.
You haven’t. No one has. It’s up to you. It’s unknown.
Even if you know (retty much where you’re going.
You’re creating.
Creating something out of nothing.
And no one but you can do that—because if someone else could, it would be
their work, not yours.
Even though, much of the time, it feels as if it is creating itself, and you’re just
the witness to it doing so.
It—the work—is the elephant. You, the writer, are the insignificant mahout
perched on its neck, clinging on, your bare toes dug behind its ears, hoping to steer
You may delude yourself that you are in control.
You aren’t.
Any more than the elephant is.
You just have to hang on and see where it takes the two of you. And I’m
beginning to have my concerns about those luminescent mushrooms it ate great
trunkfuls of as we passed through a grove of them. It appears to be dancing a jig,
and humming. Oh well. Nothing else to do than cling on, and enjoy the ride.
It doesn’t matter what you want.
All that matters is what the story wants.

“Finished” isn’t the right word. Today, just it spat me out over the ‘finishing’
The clouds cleared.
The pressure that it has held me under evaporated.
It’s over.
We made it.
Now the fun starts.
I have a beginning, a middle and an end. A hundred and seventy thousand
Relief. Confusion. Worry.
What have I got?
Does it hold together?
What is missing?
Is it as good as it could be?
How do we make it as good as it could be?
Luckily, I have a great editor in Lezli Robyn. When it’s in decent enough
shape for her to read, I will send her the manuscript.
And then, we will get to work.
Before which, I get to work.
Not today, though.
Today, after eighteen months of love and confusion, I can allow myself to take
my foot off the gas, and think:
We got there.
Wow. Hanging on by the skin of my teeth, half the time, but—what a ride; and
the other half of the time, what a joy.
I feel released, and relieved, but above all grateful to have been allowed on
that ride—and to have come out the other end more or less unscathed.
Writing, I thought.
Who’d be a writer?
Words fail me.
There’s nothing else I’d rather do.
I’ll sketch out how I go about it tomorrow.

Tonight, I turn off the computer.

Postscript—November 11 th 2023

The polish took no more than a couple of weeks. It’s now ready to go to Lezli. It’s
lined up on the runway for her behind Book Three, New Rock New Rules. Currently,
she is completing her notes on Book Two, New Rock New Realm, which I look
forward to getting. Then we dive into the Developmental Edit together. Meanwhile,
it’s back onto the hallucinating elephant again, as it blunders around in the early
stages of Book Five, New Rock New Ride. And that old, familiar WTF feeling.
Hendrix was nearly right:
Is this love or confusion?
It’s both.

Bjous Day May 13th 2023

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