greygirlbeast (greygirlbeast) wrote,

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The Bitter Nadir of Self-Doubt

I have now been writing novels (and all those other things) for "a living" for a very, very long time, and I find myself, rather unexpectedly, coming upon one of the innumerable pitfalls of this existence. The sudden certainty that I simply will never be as good as I need to be to make myself happy with my writing. Sometimes, I manage it at short-fiction and vignette length work, but the novel? The novel, which is the bread-and-butter of the "genre" author's existence, has always been a peculiar beast for me. Every novel so much harder than the one written before it. Sure, it seems to me that each novel is better written than the one preceeding it, but...that's partly because each time I pour twice the energy into the effort as I did the time before. And now there is The Red Tree, and I see it quite clearly in my head, and I just do not know if I am a good enough writer to write it the way it must be written. Not as whimsical dark fantasy or some cliché-riddled "horror" show. The shape of it is something I've never done before — at least not at novel length. And I feel entirely inadequate.

Add to this the stress — the fact that I have four to five months to complete a novel that should take me two years. The fact that my office is being disassembled about me, and in another 18 days, we leave Atlanta, Georgia for Providence, Rhode Island (a move of more than a thousand miles northeast). There are endless interruptions and distractions. My overall health is worse than at any other time in my life. The part of me that has never believed that writing is "work," even though it's the hardest thing I've ever had to do, insists there are far more important things I should be attending to now than this novel. And, in the end, I just do not know that I am good enough. My desire may be exceeding my reach. I know that this novel has to be at least twice as good as Daughter of Hounds, which is by far the best novel I have ever written, and I am struggling to make it simply as good. Yesterday, I wrote a mere 657 words. I sat here, all day, straining for each and every syllable, cursing the whole foolish endeavor. 657 words. The preface is not finished, and neither is Chapter One. I have less than 10,000 words done on a 100,000-word ms. And I am exhausted, and not well, and worried, and there's so much packing left to do, and, in the end, I fear I am simply not good enough. But the only way through is straight ahead. And no, this is not whining. This is telling the truth about my life as a writer, which is the only reason i keep this journal.

Behind the cut are photos of the Moosup Valley area in west-central Rhode Island where The Red Tree is being set. All these were taken along Moosup Valley Road. The geology here is igneous for the most part, and has been poorly studied, poorly dated. All metavolcanics (light- and dark grey-, fine-grained, interlayered feldspathic gneiss, schist, quartzite, amphibolite, and lime-silicate rock; composed chiefly of feldspars, muscovite, biotite, quartz, and amphibole; locally staurolite and sillimanite) and gabbro (dark-grey to dark-purple to black, mostly coarse-grained gabbro. massive to foliated; main constituents pyroxene, plagioclase, amphibole, and biotite; some partially altered). Near as I can tell, from my limited research of the local rocks, these unnamed formations are either Carboniferous or pre-Carboniferous in age, which doesn't tell me much of anything. Imagine asking someone how to find San Francisco, and they reply, "Well, it's farther west than the Mississippi River. "Pre-Carboniferous" is about as useful. Not that the local geology is relevant to the novel, I just felt like a tangent. Here are the pics:

Tyler Free Library, ca 1896-1900.

Turn off to Barbs Hill Road. Most of the novel actually happens out Barbs Hill Road.

They call this trickle the Moosup River, but I think that's some sort of local joke.

The Mount Vernon Tavern (not that you can find a "Mount Vernon" anywhere nearby), ca 1760.

All photographs by Carol Pollnac.

After the writing yesterday, I packed maybe five boxes of books. My office is beginning to echo. I finished Chapter Ten of Chris Beard's The Hunt for the Dawn Monkey: Unearthing the Origins of Monkeys, Apes, and Humans, a chapter largely devoted to the likelihood that anthropoid primates may have arisen as early as the Paleocene (about 56 million years ago), and appear to have entered Africa even earlier, after evolving from prosimians in Asia. Then I went with Spooky to Candler Park to get a pizza from Fellini's. Back home, we gorged on television because I was too tired for anything else. No Byron, because he and Jim went to some show at the Variety Playhouse. Another episode of Millenium (2-7; "19:19"). Then the new Doctor Who, and this Donna Noble woman isn't growing on either of us. It's like the Doctor's new companion is Edina fucking Monsoon from Ab Fab. Then the new ep of Battlestar Galactica, which was rather good. And then I did a little rp in Second Life, just a brief scene in the library with Omega and Neri and Bellatrix. Bellatrix is Nareth's new thrall. Last night, Bella was wearing her adorable new meat dress (thank you, Hyasynth), which was very appropriate. About 1:30 ayem I crawled away to bed, and Spooky read House of Leaves until about 3 ayem. Ba da pa pa. And that was yesterday.
Tags: doctor who, doh, geological history, moving, rhode island, the red tree, writing
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