Flaubert and his bears seem distant, or at least they no longer oppress me. Revision. It is what it is. For those keeping score at home, or as a memory aid to some future reading self, today I am through the end of Chapter 13, which now ends at Page 254 out of 461. It’s gotten longer, because I keep adding things, while I have excised only a few extra words here and there, and one scene of any length — the eight pages at the end of Chapter 12 where Rachel visits Henry Austen in the sickroom, which I decided made no sense and wasn’t leading the story anywhere I wanted to go. I did a lot of stuff in Chapter 1, but many of the other changes were relatively minor, until I got to Chapter 12, the part right after Liam and Rachel meet Cassandra Austen for the first time and are trying to decide what to make of her.
This chapter was a bear (sorry, Flaubert) to write, and it reflected the strains of its origins as I read it again. Additionally, it did not seem to lead naturally into Chapter 13. This midpoint seemed exactly where things needed to get thicker and crazier, and instead Rachel seemed to become more vague as a narrator; I had a sense of the narrator getting bored with her own tale, summarizing things she should have shown, indulging in cheap acts of foreshadowing. Like the really exciting stuff was still a little way off, and we had to get through this slightly tedious other business first. A lot of talking, not enough reflection and not enough actual event. There is still a lot of talking — maybe too much.
But it’s better. I think. I hope. I moved up and adjusted an important plot element, Rachel’s moment of self-revelation where she realizes she is attracted to Liam, and I explored another aspect of the altering-the-universe element. Is it enough? Only time will tell. I can say as of March 29, 2012, I definitely do not know where I am going with the love story part of this, and I am rather sorry I ever thought of it.
Lately I am so far inside the world of this story that coming out is hard. Maybe impossible. It’s like a movie playing in my head. Yesterday, finding myself at liberty on a fine day and in the mood for a walk, I walked from East 57th Street (where I had had an appointment) to Union Square. And the whole way I was staring at people’s faces in fascination, looking for people who looked like what I imagined my characters looking like. It was like my imagination did not want to stay inside my head; it needed to find validation in the world.
I passed “Mordecai” on about 20th Street, and I was so excited that I briefly thought of chasing after him and asking if I could photograph him. I tried to think of how I would explain this. Then I realized I had no way to shoot him: I had left my cellphone at home.
I have moments when I am so delighted with my story I can hardly contain myself, and others when I think it is still extremely mediocre and pedestrian. But I do not trust either of these feelings more than the other one.