This novel is a project that I began in January, 2015, when I moved out to California temporarily. For a long time now, people have been telling me I should write a book, which is so very flattering on the one hand, and so very daunting on the other. It’s always on the daunting side of the equation that I talk myself out of it–after all, writing a book is an awful lot of trouble. But why should I talk myself out of it? I actually WANT to write a book!
But what if people don’t like it? Then what? When I was a high school Spanish teacher, a parent had sat in on one of my classes, and at the end of the class, she marched up to me and announced that she was going to report me to the Principal for being “completely unorthodox.” As soon as I could, I sought out the assistant principal who was, perhaps, the administrator most kindly disposed towards me, and after I confessed to the crime with which I had been charged, he laughed and said, “Gloria, don’t you realize that everyone, including the Principal, already KNOWS that?”
I’m getting more comfortable with the fact that this book will not be everyone’s cup of tea. I’m so thrilled when people like it, but at the end of the day, I’m writing this book for myself. I recently told a friend about the book, and she said, “It looks like you’ve got too much time on your hands.” Even though her remark initially felt like a slap in the face, I told her she was right and just laughed it off. At least she didn’t report me to the Principal! Oh, that’s right! I’m retired! What Principal?
Prior to my decision to actually write this book, I had been placating myself by racking up lots of little writings–poems, songs, and short stories, right here on my WordPress blog. My plan was, and kind of still is, that when I feel myself shuffling off this mortal coil, I will download everything from my blog, print it all out without editing anything, make two copies, bind each one with the title, “Circling the Drain,” and present my two sons with their very own copy. Both copies will then sit somewhere on a shelf and gather dust. The triumph will be that it’s MY book gathering dust.
When the idea for this book came to me, I realized that I could tell it as a short story, but in a book, I could give each character a “real” life to negotiate, screw up, and resolve, just like the rest of us. I don’t know that this is the perfect book for me to write–there are so many details to think through–but since it’s my book, it can be whatever I want it to be. And me, I like science fiction, magical realism, creepy stories, and stories about women and relationships. I’ll also be adding lots of quirky bits and pieces along the way because it’s fun, and because I can–hey, it’s my book, right?
As far as the logistics are concerned, I’m going to actually try to create a story board and start plotting things out. The only thing stopping me is having to buy some post-it notes, which I haven’t done because I hate buying things that are manufactured to become instant garbage. Or I can continue to do what I always do: sally forth, charge at a few random windmills, do battle (at my leisure) with a few malevolent giants and pissed off dragons, get lost, get found, have a few laughs and go home–if I can remember where the blazes that happens to be. Oh, that’s right–home is the place that is wrapped around the garbage can without all the used post-it notes in it!
I have to look at writing this book the way I would look at, say, driving across the country. If you can drive across town, you can drive across the state, and if you can drive the state, you can drive across the country. And even though your wheels never left the ground, you are now, almost magically, on the other coast! Imagine that!
While I wasn’t and still am not ready to commit to sitting down for four or five hours a day to write a novel, I was and still am ready to start writing chapters of about 2,o00 words each, once or twice a month. I am now toying with the idea of writing a chapter a week–oh, who am I kidding? One chapter a month is perfect, come to think of it!
Regardless of my publishing schedule, this blog is perfect for getting those chapters out there, one at a time. The good thing about a serial format is that it keeps me focused on the very next chapter because my readers, few though they may be, are expecting something else sometime soon from me. The downside to the serial format is that once the chapter is out there, it’s out there. I can’t really go back and do major revisions as I could if I were writing a traditional book. It’s the literary equivalent of tight-rope walking without a net.
But non-commitment is its very own story, isn’t it? And I’m hoping this book will be a good one. And if it’s not, at least I can always say that I wrote a book.