I have not posted here since an outing in February to a wonderful dramatization of the Bronte sisters’ life. I am not keeping up with my reading list (although I do so on Goodreads). I started another #100daysofwriting challenge and quickly began forgetting — not to write, I never forget that — but to take a daily picture and post it on Instagram.
Feckless though I am, it struck me it might be fun in retrospect to have had some record here of the progress of the novel I imagine myself to be writing. Though it may come to nothing (the novel-diary plan, I mean — the novel will come to something, though hard to say what), mere risk of failure is not enough of an argument against. So here goes, in hopes that it can encourage others as much as myself.
I got a half-baked notion to write about the Brontes back in 2013, though I did not form any resolve until 2017, also an alarmingly long time ago. I began reading books about them, as one does, and faffing about trying to write openings. My time at a residency in Minnesota last February, when I had nearly two weeks to do nothing but think about the Brontes and go for walks in the cold, was a huge step forward. Since then I have made many small steps forward and even more sideways. I came up with a title! I changed the tenses and waffled about what person to write in! I wrote outlines; I wrote scenes; I learned to use Scrivener.
I would estimate I have written 80,000 words, which means little unless you know how many of them are useful, and I don’t. I keep thinking it should be easier to write novels than this; that I am going about it all wrong and everyone else knows something I don’t.
Today, though, I sat down and tried to write another outline, knowing a little more than the last time I tried to write one, a few months back. And this time it made more sense, which resembled progress. “Armature” was the word that kept coming to me. It’s one that’s been kicking around in my brain ever since reading an obituary of Toni Morrison, which mentioned that a real-life account in an old newspaper provided the “armature” for Beloved. Though sounding strikingly structural, almost clinical, especially for a novel like that, it made sense: Structure does not exclude creativity. It allows it.
I have an armature! Armed with my armature, I will arise now and go forward into the dark unknown.
But at least the blog won’t be so dark. And I love the dark. Lots of things are at their best in the dark: moonlight, ghosts, firelight, fireflies, uprisings, to name but a few.