For the first time in my writing life, I am working on two novels simultaneously. I am revising my most recent novel, Bodies of Water, while starting a new novel. Normally, this is not my protocol. I've always felt a sort of obligation to finish what I started before moving onto the next project, but with the end of my contract, I am overwhelmed by a strange urgency to have things firmly in place for the next book.
What this has created for me is an odd schizophrenia. I get up early and work on Bodies for about an hour. (an hour of revising is about all I can endure.) Then I shift gears and work on the opening chapter of the new book. What this means is that I have become a dual resident of early 60s suburban Boston and a traveling midway in 1970s New England. It seems like this would be difficult, but I'm actually finding thematic threads that make the transition pretty easy. I don't know why I have resisted this literary multi-tasking in the past. It seems to be working.
I just finished reading Truth and Beauty by Ann Patchett (her memoir about her relationship with Lucy Grealy, author of
Autobiography of a Face). She talks about how different they were in
their work ethics. Lucy was all avoidance, always waiting until the
deadline was nearing (or passed) while she herself was an "ant." I absolutely
identify with this. I feel very much a writing ant. One little step at a
time...maybe two at a time now.
I think the sense of urgency I've been feeling creatively is also because the school year is coming to an end, and in just a month I won't have the luxury of 6 hour days to get my work done. The girls will be home for the summer, and I feel like I owe it to them to be present. They will be going to theatre camp and visiting family in Flagstaff, but my dream is that Bodies will be finished, the new book will have gathered momentum. I would like to spend more time at the beach this summer. Take advantage of the city more. And then we have Vermont, of course.