Monday, May 23, 2011

What Happened? Where'd IT go?

So, after a hiatus of 37 days, today was the day that I was determined to get back to work on this book. Finally.

Maybe you thought I'd given up. NO. After 16 years of working on Sister Mysteries and the companion novel, Castenata, I've just GOT to finish. I've got to save Sister Renata from hanging. As I've said time and again in this book, saving her will save me.

Still, it took all of my writerly energy to bring myself to the laptop. To sit down to try to craft the next chapter.

If you aren't a writer, then you probably don't know what happens when you step away from writing a book.

This is what happens: very quickly the book morphs into a mind-boggling monster, one that is so ferocious you don't dare go near it. The longer you stay away from said monster, the scarier and more impossible it gets to approach it.

The book stares at you with the fangs of a saber-toothed tiger.

It weighs on you like an elephant. You say to yourself, I just can't possibly write another word of this...incredibly terrifying thing. I don't know what I'm doing writing this book. I don't know where I'm going with book. I have no idea how I'm going to finish it. I have no plan. I have no talent. I have no brain.

But then, you wake up one day, and say, hey, it's just a damn book. And nobody really cares what the _____ you write anyway.

You kick off the covers, and put all those ferocious animal images out of your head. You make yourself a strong cup of tea or coffee and get to work.

In my case, I lay down on top of my neatly-made bed, where I am very relaxed. And then I sit back and...write.

Sometimes I might open another book, and take out a line for inspiration.

Today I opened Mariette in Ecstasy, a wonderful novel by Ron Hanson (it's another nun novel.) This is one of the lines I happened on today: "The skies are gray as habits and all the greens are darkening with a faint and chilling mist." Ah, what a lovely line of prose.

Anyway, sometimes a line like that will jumpstart my own writing.

Today, though, I just plowed ahead and before I knew it, I was deep into my chapter. I was actually almost near the finish line with CHAPTER FORTY FOUR. Indeed, if you happened to visit this blog between about 3 and 4 p.m. today, maybe you read part of it.

But then, shortly after four, something wild and terrible and awful happened. I was doing some sort of edit, deleting or moving a photo, or a paragraph, or making some other minor change. I don't even remember what it was I was doing. All I know is that something went kazooey and I inadvertently deleted the whole damn chapter.

I was....stunned.

In five years of blogging, I don't think this has ever happened to me before. I am usually a lot more careful. (It even occurred to me, in one paranoid moment, that maybe someone had hacked into my blog, because I believe that actually HAS happened before.)

Whatever, it happened. I lost hours worth of work.

And no, I had no back up because I write these chapters right here on this blog. It's kind of crazy, yes, but it's also kind of cool, because you feel like you're writing on a tightrope, dancing and balancing on a high wire right in full view of the reading public (whatever reading public there is.)

But dancing on a high wire, you need a net. In case you fall.

I should have had a net, in case the blog failed, and I was stupid and I didn't.

So now I have to write the whole damn thing over again.

Which leads me to wondering about something. When I wrote the chapter today, I thought I knew where I was going, or at least, I thought I knew where I wanted to end up.

With Governor Stoneman. A real governor.

In 1883, when Sister Renata was convicted of murdering her cousin Antonie, George Stoneman was Governor of California. (He doesn't compare very well to Arnold, no.) Stoneman was a Civil War hero. In 1882, he was elected Governor of California and served a single four-year term.

Curiously, for the purposes of this book, Stoneman supported prison reform and staunchly believed in rehabilitating prisoners through parole - so much so that in the last few weeks of his term, he granted 260 pardons and commuted 146 prison sentences.

The question is: will Governor Stoneman intervene on behalf of Sister Renata? Will he review the evidence (or lack thereof) from the case and put aside her guilty verdict?

In other words, WILL HE SET THE NUN FREE?

Well, so, that's where I'm headed in this next chapter.

But after hours of writing, I'm exhausted. I need another cup of tea.

No comments: