Thursday, August 14, 2014

What Happens to all the Words That Die in The Process of Writing a Novel?

This morning my shirinkydoo (whom I'll call Mini-Freud) seemed disgruntled. I asked him, "What's up? How are you feeling?"* This led to a long drawn out discussion about me, of all things, about how I'm doing with my forthcoming novel. November still seems a long way off, but by the end of this month, the final edited, the publisher's proof and the layout of the book will be put to bed, which means no more final fantastical blurbs, no more changes, no more holding it close to my chest. Not ever again. It is done, ready for sailing.

What came up as I was saying all this to Mini-Freud was somewhat surprising, at least to me.  That is, a great wave of sadness rose up and appeared in written words, not water. All these written words were the ones that didn't make it into the final book. Discarded scene after discarded scene, and back story after detail, all of which have been cut from the novel, and they washed over me, and I felt a sense of enormous grief. How is it that all these beloved words, these hundreds of pages, which did their duty in service to building the little boat that is my novel, are now gone, erased, their work complete? What happens to the unused writing when the little vessel floats out there on its own? It's just a slim volume compared to all that has been written in it and as it over the years to get to this very launching? How will it do on its own without the support of every single left-behind thought, word, image, metaphor, and scene that helped to create it? All those words that only I know about.  What if those are the words that justify the novel as being worthy of reading?

Mini-Freud suggested in his gentle way that perhaps I am grieving all the choices not taken in my own life, all the options passed by on the way toward realizing my one impermanent, imperfect, fragile life.  He said, "To actualize anything, especially a life, we leave a lot of dreams behind, don't we?" Ah, Mini-Freud, how wise you are.  Ah, novel, I hope you have a safe, adventuresome, and long journey into the world without too many storms. Sail boldly in the name of all the words that have drown in your honor.

*Or maybe I was feeling disgruntled and he asked me how I was feeling? I always know who's who in there.

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