Sorry you haven’t heard from me in a while. I’ve been very incognito, very much swimming in this book, and very, very much at its mercy. The courtship took a long time, lots of dancing around it, research, playing, experimenting, trying to make it mine. I have definitely broken the barrier and gotten into the story, the pages are dropping away (at last). I’ve broken an important milestone too, as I’ve gotten over all my little hang-ups on writing a book-length work, and seem able to do it now.
But every step I take, this thing gets a little more life and will and it walks on its own and it grows, becomes larger and more ambitious. For example, the form I’ve given this epic (as we’ve previously discussed) is a series of main chapters (“books”) that are in a chaotic, poetic form, a dialogue between the priestess (who now, in a roundabout way, has your namesake) and the muse who she’s summoned (and who she cannot control…I guess their relationship was an unintentional prophecy of what my relationship to this book would be). In-between these chapters (dealing with ritual and the spirit world) are prose chapters (mostly dealing with the mundane world), which I’m calling “interludes” that indirectly touch back on the themes of the main plotline. Thus, the story moves in a spiral.
Well, back to my example, I set out to write an introductory interlude, basically, explaining how in Voodoo (Vodou), history is told by telling little stories again and again, in a spiral – basically, just a little interlude to introduce the following interludes. But it changed, took on a will of its own, and, quite unintentionally, I wrote this chapter on the shape of the universe and time and how everything is made of spirals, how shamans knew of the double-helix (through hallucinations with the spiraling ayahusaca vine) thousands of years before scientists did, and suddenly….my whole epic is becoming this intricate spiral, made of tiny spirals, of repeating sounds and themes and motifs…
It’s in control and it is bigger and smarter than me.
This bodes well for the work itself…the writing is going GREAT! But it’s bad for earthly deadlines. I’m now into about 75+ pages of actual text (and many, many, files and pages of notes and characters)…but I think this monster will easily top 300 pages by the time I get to the ending I want (and I know the last sentence…it’s the same as the first sentence…spirals and all that).
I can’t get there by the deadline of next week.
So…I have two options. I think I can easily, in this semester, get to the amount of “work” that would be deemed necessary to complete a thesis…even if the story itself is not at the end. I think, by the deadline next week, I’ll be somewhere over a hundred pages – completing the first main arc of the plot (the priestess discovering the identity of our tattered hero, a fallen angel, and convincing him to go into the Underworld to rescue a lost soul). Maybe I could nip it off here, find a stopping point, with the hint of further books (like Dante’s three epics).
Would this work?
Or…there is the option of another semester (I keep pulling semesters out of my pockets…sleight of hand and time). I know, now that I have a grasp of the form of this book and the end is in site and the pages are falling away, that I’d be done with the WHOLE plot by then (turning in the book to you by the end of December/beginning of January), with quite a nice thesis to put on the rack in the archives of the library.
The advantage to the first option is being graduated and being sent on my way into the world (and I can write the rest of the book(s) on my own).
The advantage to the second option is finishing this thing (while it’s all on my mind…so heavy!) under the watch and aegis of you, the program, and my fellow writers here in Springfield. For example, I’m in Joanna’s creative writing class and it’s served as an invaluable testing ground for the first chapters of the story and making sure all the experimental things I’m doing actually make sense to an audience.
Those are the options I think I can manage. What do you think?
PS – Thank you for mentoring me through this the last few years (not to mention the years before in Eureka). I appreciate it more than I can write out in literal sentences…thank God I have metaphors and stories to fill in the gaps.