Monday, December 23, 2013

no bear involved

I'm moving swiftly along with revisions to my novel Mona in the Desert, which maybe one day will find a publisher and you'll all get to see what I babble about. Odds are against, but I continue to revise nonetheless. I've written a new opening chapter, not to replace the original first chapter, but to go in front of it. The original first chapter is now the second chapter in the book, sandwiched between Chapter One and Chapter Two, and titled "A Note Regarding the Author's Method." It contains, predictably enough, a note regarding the narrator's method. The new opening chapter is about 4400 words in length and is, I think, quite fine. I might do all my first chapters this way from now on: write the book except for the first chapter, let the MS sit for about a year, then go back and write the first chapter. No, I won't do that, but it was interesting in this case and probably I could only get away with that method for books which are nonlinear narratives that spoil themselves as they go along, if you believe in spoilers, which I'm not sure I do. Anyway, things are moving along. I awoke today to an idea for an additional chapter which will, I think, find itself about 3/4 of the way through the narrative. This chapter will fill in some of the blanks created by the original narrative. What will be tricky is finding a way to present the material to the reader without presenting it to the narrator, who will be a) unaware of the events that take place in this chapter, and b) unaware that this chapter is even in the book he is writing. I have some ideas, though. It will be an amusing project for me. I would like to avoid typographical solutions (e.g. having the "hidden" chapter in italics or a different type face than the rest of the novel). But I think I can work it. This is, yes, the typical Bailey "high degree of difficulty" maneuver I make toward the end of all of my novels. There is however no bear involved. Not yet, anyway. I have so far but the barest inkling of what this chapter will contain. It will be interesting to write. I really do love this admirable little novel. I hope someone wants to publish it someday.

Also, I'm reading Flannery O'Connor's The Violent Bear It Away. I read this book about 20 years ago, and can barely remember it. Yet it all seems familiar, as if I'm walking through the reconstruction of a house I knew in my youth, and as I enter each new room I say, Yes, that's how it was, I recall those windows and that patch of shadow, and yes, here is where I stood when I looked through the door, etc. It's like I'm aware of the ghost of the novel looking over my shoulder while I'm reading it. Which is not a complaint, merely an observation.


  1. Reading books again can be a daunting experience, especially in the ways in which our memories are challenged and baffled.

    I wish you well in your journey through O'Connor's novel. Perhaps I will also revisit that one. I will probably be surprised (like you) about what I remember correctly and incorrectly.

  2. Look forward to your non-typographical solution!

    Well, there are many choices in publishing that weren't there a few years ago, so I imagine it will find a home. Hope so!

    I'm going to reread Wise Blood, and no doubt will feel the same.

  3. Marly, my re-readings of Wise Blood are always complicated by my intense reading of it in conjunction with my MA thesis.

    I had a professor who warned me about getting a degree in literature: I would probably never again read "for pleasure" because my critical theory apparatus would get in the way. In many ways, he was correct.

    I wish I could go back in time to my first experience with Wise Blood. I was stunned, confused, and thrilled at the same time. I have escaped my intense identification with the protagonist.

  4. Correction: I have NOT escaped my intense personal identification with the protagonist.

  5. Yay for Mona. I keep promising myself I'll find the time to write the novels I want to write and not have to fool around with genre. Structure is something I'd really like to explore. I tried it once or twice and I liked it, but building on my series is top priority right now.

    Happy Happy Christmas, Mr. Bailey. I hope you and Lady Reader have a fantastic holiday.