a late memorial day

Excellent weekend, followed up by a promising week. Tons of candy at the parade. Beautiful weather. Got to write a bit at the Brewpub. Some guy is always approaching me, wishing I had internet. This one said: "Do you know who won the Indy 500?" For the record, the brewpub has no Wi-Fi (sp??) and I would not insult "The Lake Attitude" by indulging in internet usage up there anyway.

So when the answer was no, he wondered why I was working on a Sunday. I said I love what I do. He said what do you do? (Understand this conversation is being shouted across the bar so that about twenty people heard it.) And when I said "I write," I got to witness that respect that people have for writers. Ok, it wasn't a hush, but people started listening and I don't think it was just cuz I had on my "big" bra.

People who don't write think writers have "imagination" rather than a mild case of insanity. They think we've been granted astral powers of observation and connection. They think the gods speak to us. They think we have Answers.

Since I know so many writers and indulge in a fair bit of it myself, I don't carry quite that respect (unless you write well; reading truly superb writing is a gift from God) because I know that like any job, 90% of it is keeping your weary fingers on the keyboard. So what if the other 10% is divine inspiration? God doesn't come unless you put your time in.

Like, now, for instance. I'm in final major revisions of my book. Sounds romantic, eh? Not. As if I particularly enjoy rearanging the scenes from the final fifth of my book into the sort of coherence that sells. It takes hours of reading the same words over and over. What once seemed brilliant is now tired tripe. It's satisfying in the way that I get to see the arc of action really take shape, but it constantly undermines my confidence, too. Writing a novel is like raising a kid. Most of the time you're saying the right thing at the wrong time. And damn it, once you get your timing down the book is over, the moment's passed, or the kid's grown up and paying for his own therapist.

This is not love-at-first-draft, when I sometimes write half-drunk
to liberate my conscious mind and then get up early again, despite my hangover, to pound out another five pages. This isn't letting my thoughts spill out like so much barf from bad sushi. This isn't even the entertaining second draft stage, when I'm still working mostly on faith, I find jewels in the book that steer the plot and character development, and my desk is littered with 3x5 cards that say something like: "Julian/Jacob, switch covenant" (I've no idea what that means, but the card's going back on the stack anyway) or "writers banned, illiteracy encouraged: The Man didn't Lie when He said your soul can be ripped from your body." (I just found that one. Hmm. I was gonna write that short story. Better get on that.)

This is work--damn difficult work.

But writers' work ain't nothing compared to the work our soldiers do every day. At the end of our parade came two saddled horses, boots in stirrups, hats hanging on the horns, rifles emptied of bullets. Kinda makes you think, eh? Kinda makes me want to write.

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