Recently, I have been resisting working on “Back outta the World. Oh sure, I can tell myself that work has been busy. True. I have been paying more attention to the blog. Also true. This afternoon I spent a good deal of time letting as many people as possible know that I have just appeared on a podcast.
All the above are true. Yet if I truly wanted to find the time and energy to keep revising “Back outta the World” I could have.
I have made good progress to date and may have found an editor to take on the manuscript after I have finished this revision. As some of you may know, the novel and the current revisions were written almost 25 years apart. That dynamic provides a unique vantage point to take stock of who I was and what I felt and thought about life a quarter century ago . Sometimes I look foolish to my older self. A good sign, I think. In other passages I see myself and mutter, “That’s me, alright.”
In “A Commotion in your heart-notes on writing and life“, Barb Shoup says that ‘The first tool in any revision toolkit is putting the manuscript away for a while.” Maybe I went a little overboard in waiting over two decades between revisions.
Whatever the case, I am enjoying the hell out of communicating with my younger self. The passage from him that has forced me to resist going on isn’t a bad one. But one that has made me stop and think. And to feel a little anxious about what Jay, who is obviously me from BotW, will tell me about myself next.
In BotW, Jay is several weeks into his road trip and is becoming accustomed to not knowing what day it is, and not setting the alarm clock. He is about to head out of Chicago on the next part of his pilgrimage westward with his companions when he stops on a busy corner to observe the commuters boarding one of the many buses that are stopping there at rush hour. For that moment, Jay wants to give up the road trip for the boredom and security of the daily grind, which those bus commuters are bound to. It seems safe. It presents a good place to be. He pictures himself momentarily living that routine specific to his own life. But, isn’t he on this trip to avoid just such a fate? Jay only comes out of these thoughts because he has hope of meeting a beautiful female wanna be rock star down the road in Louisville.
When I read that passage it struck me, these 25 years later, that I am happy to be like the commuters on the bus on that corner in Chicago. I like the 5 day routine. I like shutting down the work day and the work week and doing things on the weekends just like most everyone else.
In fact, that stability and routine has enabled me to create a consistent, predictable and productive time to work on Tripio, and now BotW. When I was living out what was the source material for those novels however, I fancied myself a mad Beatnik or a wondering Henry Miller type. I’m not though. I thrive on the dull life Jay is running from in BotW. I need that so that I actually can get back into those manuscripts and make something better out of them.
The question that has me stuck for now is, “How did Jay know? More unsettling is the prospect that later in the manuscript he’ll tell me things I don’t really want to know about myself.
‘May I help who’s next?”