Yesterday, I sat here all day and wrote less than 300 words on the new beginning of the first chapter of The Wolf Who Cried Girl, but I'm not sure any of them are words I'll actually hang onto. So, the beginning has, I suspect, yet to begin in earnest.
Novels are always difficult things for me to get underway. I refuse not to fear a bad "first draft," as I do not write novels in drafts. I write the novel. If it has to be rewritten, I've failed to do my job right the first time. And, truthfully, this is no slower a way to work than authors who take for granted that three or four drafts will be needed to get things correct. I cannot abide repetitive tasks, and, for me, that's what rewriting is, a tedious, repetitive task. If it were necessary, I'd not be a novelist.
I know that much of the novel is set in Olneyville, and I know that the protagonist (to use the word loosely) takes long nocturnal drives in rural western Rhode Island and northeastern Connecticut to help herself through those times when she's having trouble sculpting. After sitting at the iMac all day yesterday, I left the House, and Kathryn drove me out Hartford Avenue from Olneyville Square, west towards the state line. The sunset was fiery, a red-orange inferno hovering above the purple horizon. Hartford Avenue becomes Route 6A/Hartford Pike, through Johnston and Scituate and Foster (and south of Ponaganset and Gloucester), and we followed 6A all the way to Connecticut. The air through the windows of the car was chilly, and smelled of growing things and receding flood waters and, occasionally, of dead skunks. We passed Rhode Island's highest point, Jerimoth Hill, a lowly 812 feet above sea level. The land out that way alternates between marshy woods and rocky, forested hills strewn with boulders. Old houses loom along the roadside. The night was filled with the sound of frogs. It's always a comfort to hear frogs these days, given how their numbers have declined in recent decades.
About 7: 30 p.m., we drove through East Killingly, Killingly Center, Dayville, and Pomfret. At Mashamoquet State Park, we passed Wolf Den Drive (named for Isreal Putnam, who is reputed to have murdered Connecticut's last wolf in a nearby cave in 1742). By this time, it was full dark, and we turned north onto Ye Old Windham Road (also Route 97/Hampton Road), a narrow two-lane affair bordered by dense tangles of hardwoods and greenbriars, drystone walls and pastureland. We circled back to 6A, and headed home around 8 p.m. I'm fairly certain the book's opening scene will be take place somewhere near Route 97 in Connecticut (though most of the novel is set in Providence). Somewhere along the road, we stopped at a doughnut and coffeeshop called Baker's Dozen (buy a dozen, get thirteen). Very good doughnuts, like Dunkin' Doughnuts used to taste. On the way back to Providence, I dozed a bit. We made it back about 9 p.m., and stopped for Chinese takeout. Driving west, we listened to Arcade Fire (Neon Bible); driving home, we listened to Radiohead (Iron Lung).
And later, insomnia. I slept maybe six hours, with the help of Ambien (which means I'm still not awake). It's never good to go to bed with a mood as black as mine was last night, but I tired of trying to keep myself distracted and only wanted to lie down. Not sleep. I rarely want to sleep.