Marsh marigolds

Yesterday I finished the first draft of the novella I began on October 19th, 2012. As I was writing towards the end, I still wasn’t sure what would happen. There were a few possibilities, one of them more dramatic than the others, but I found myself choosing a direction which is sort of open-ended. In some ways, I prefer novels which let me wonder a little.

This morning I came to my desk and began to read from the beginning. Because there are shifting time periods in this novella, I want to be sure I have them straight in my own mind. If they are in the right order, then the echoes which resonate from them will make more sense to a reader. And I don’t like printing out more drafts than I really need to — it’s hard to justify the waste of paper…

The novella is set in 1978-9. Mostly. There are also sections set in 1973. And even a very few sections set in the 1960s.  It’s certainly a work of fiction but I loved revisiting the Victoria of my early twenties, which is where some of the novella is located. I was new to writing, new to the notion that someone might actually be a writer as opposed to almost anything else. The culture of my family had no precedence for this so it was hard to think that it might be where I was heading. But significant teachers and friends helped me to find my way —  Robin Skelton, the painter Jack Wilkinson, Rona Murray, a few others. One of the most interesting things to me is how I tricked my subconscious into letting me write poetry in the voice of my character Patrin Szkandery. Her poems aren’t mine exactly but it was great to at least have the opportunity to write something brief and lyrical in a morning instead of, well, a novella.

And part of the novella takes place in 1979 in what was then Czechoslovakia. I’ve read everything I could find about that period and hope I’ve got the details right. Time will tell.

But this morning I am floating. In a day or two I’ll print out this draft and then I’ll know just how much more work I need to do to make this little story as fine as I want it to be but for now I’ll float. Like these marsh marigolds coming into bloom in the bathtub pool…


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