That sound again. Pages hitting the floor. Pages being thrown away, junked, rejected--by me.
How many hundreds of pages have I thrown away in the past ten years? Many. Is this madness, or have all these rejections had a purpose?
Much of the rejection has come of a restlessness with old ways of doing things. Writing and writing and writing in an effort to see a new way of going about it organic to me. There are lost of new ways out there to copy; but what feels authentic? And a new way that I also like.
Another cause of the tossing has been the effort to write a novel, a form that doesn't come naturally to me. I wrote one before, which should be a reassurance. But it isn't. I wrote one right when I was supposed to years ago that was to be my second novel, but a similar story--yet completely different--appeared first, so mine went back in the drawer. Then what? Lots of ideas that didn't compel me enough to stick with for the years it takes. A few ideas I probably should have pursued, but I was intimidated by the research involved. Finally, a set of characters I like and plan to stick with for a while, but I made some mistakes in terms of writing long sections that didn't add up to much, and so on. All along I wrote essays, stories, and pages here and there of a memoir. The novel contract though--comes first.
This summer I had a month to really push hard, and I did. A certain number of words a day, no matter what. This has always been a method that works for me, even if everything I write under that self-imposed duress gets tossed. It makes me start to think better, and to see what I really want.
What do I want? To be in the presence of a feeling, and to communicate that feeling. I think I have said that before. I believe all books start in a feeling, a single feeling, and then comes the work of figuring out the characters, the form, the plot, and so on, that hold a place for that feeling--forever, really. A lot of writing and tossing is a way to return to the original feeling--or, if I miss the feeling and consider a character or a story instead, to excavate for the feeling that gave rise to that other apparition.