There was a moment last night when I said, "How could I have accomplished so little this week-end?" It was after I watched the latest remake of A Star is Born, which so many people loved, but I did not, so I was ripe for feelings of regret.
This morning I tallied my word count for Saturday and Sunday: 2, 147 new words written on my apocalyptic thriller. So why would I feel that I had accomplished nothing?
As I washed my grandmother's mixing bowl by hand (after making gluten free communion bread--there must be a poem here), it came to me. What I really mean: "Another week-end seems to be zipping by, and I still haven't sorted any of the boxes in the cottage."
Once, as long as I was getting the artistic work done, I wouldn't have cared, and I'm still not sure I do care. It's interesting, though, how that socialization has taken root in me. If I've had time to watch movies, I should have made time to get some real work done, the less pleasurable kind.
We also watched Blackkklansman, which I thought was profoundly interesting as a work of art. If we had just stopped with that movie, would I have felt as much like a slacker?
I meant to get more wash done. I did get some of the remaining stuff out of the cottage refrigerator, some cans of soda and a pitcher of tea that I had moved out there for the camp counselors. Why doesn't that work feel important?
In terms of creating the world of the novel, I had an important insight at some point yesterday as I drove to the grocery store--wait, I grocery shopped--why doesn't my judgmental self see that as work?
But I digress. Back to the breakthrough. I'd been thinking about the idea of the stakes of the novel. What drives the characters? What is at risk?
I'd been assuming that the husband in the novel is dead. But what if he's not dead?
And this morning, I came up with another idea: what if nobody knows for sure? Later I thought, "Am I just writing a modern version of Missing?" Not exactly, but it's another strand to weave into my elevator pitch.
Here's my novel right now. a political thriller, a sort of Handmaid's Tale meets a modern underground railroad kind of narrative arc mixed in with some Octavia Butler's Parable of the Sower and the 1982 movie Missing.
Here's a fun party question: would you rather be your generation's Graham Greene, Octavia Butler, or Margaret Atwood?
It's a fun party question for philosophers and English majors at least.