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Saturday, August 11, 2007

day of the blog

an angry Wyoming mob

Jentel Artist Residency Program
Banner, WY

I spent the first three and a half weeks here writing as though I had a publisher and a deadline--you know, money at stake. I took the novel and the comments of my pitiless writer's group (in last night's dream Barry called the last draft "morally bankrupt"), the notes I'd fed into a tape recorder on my drive out here, the dark suspicions I've harbored about the work but never faced, and I brought all this knowledge and self-loathing to bear on a pack of 4x6 note cards, each of which became a chapter outline for the third draft. These three days of work, among the unhappiest of my creative life, propelled the subsequent 21 days of difficult but fluent labor, which have resulted in 80 pages (40,000 words) of a brand new draft, typed into a new Word document, that I hope I don't flatter myself to think are almost readable.

I almost made it to the end of Part I (of IV), but twenty-three days of writing seven hours a day, with one day off in the middle, have slowed my output to a stingy, viscous drip. I may not be done with Part I, but I'm done with the novel, at least for this residency. Confronted with the attractions of the Wyoming landscape, the Jentel movie collection and library, and my four congenial colleagues here, who are all winding down their work too, I have decided that I will spend the day blogging.

Having blogged early, with the year-long site for daily writing (launched on my birthday in May, 1999), I've gotten some encouragement to blog seriously now that so many are doing it for so much money. I've been sorely tempted to follow this advice, having enjoyed D&P so much and being so long unemployed, short on money and loath to squeeze myself back into the cubicles of industry. But when I'm going full-tilt on the novel, I can't even write in my diary. I certainly don't have the mental capacity or motivation to blog, even half-heartedly. Blogging and fiction are mutually exclusive, and only someone with much more effectively delineated mental cubicles than I could pull it off.

Blogging is about immediacy and impulse, throwing it away, shouting outrage into tunnels and hoping angry mobs come stampeding out of them. Fiction is about writing it, loving it, rereading and hating it, revising it, then throwing it out and starting it over. I've tried to harness the energy of the blog for the purposes of fiction, having it out with my sadistic writer's group in blog format, also churning out rhapsodies of vocabulary enrichment. But I cannot write fiction and blog seriously. So today, when I will not write fiction, I will blog.

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