Another summer burns in the flames of the harvest. Here we are again, hurtling toward winter and a revolution into the next number in line. I’m not sad to see summer disappear; autumn has always been my favorite season and one in which I’m usually more productive.
That’s a good thing, too, since this past summer was a huge bust from a productivity standpoint.
Happily, however, I finished the zero draft of my novel in May, just two days before I left for a month in Spain and Switzerland. Upon returning to the States, we relished our opportunity to host our friends Michael and Katherine of various and well-deserved fame, most notably Technomadics, A Tasty Pixel, and Nellie Windmill. Long-time readers of Traveling Savage might recognize them from our serendipitous meetings in Scotland during the spring of 2011.
Shortly after their return to Oz, I contracted and endured a lengthy bout with Lyme disease (perhaps you picked up on my tongue-in-cheek references in my last State of the Savage). That’s what I get for breaking my life-long ban on camping. Following on my illness was our cat Fingal’s illness, a special bug known as FLUTD (Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease) or FIC (Feline Idiopathic Cystitis) that proved life-threatening and required me to essentially watch over him for all of August. It was lucky – for him – that I work from home; the flipside, however, is that I got very little done.
Writing it out like this makes it all seem pretty silly. Everyone has ish to deal with.
The albatross circling over all this has been the state of my novel and moving into the next phase of work, which is revising the zero draft into first draft shape. The zero draft was supposed to be for my eyes only, but I eventually broke down in August and handed it to two close, highly trust-worthy people for their input. The feedback helped. In the past few months I’ve sharpened my focus on the themes that were touched on here and there throughout the zero draft, cut roughly half of said zero draft (by eliminating an entire POV character (7 chapters) and throwing away all 11 chapters of another character’s POV), and spent a lot of time building personas for the main characters.
But I don’t feel good about it. I should, I think, but I don’t. Since returning from Europe I’ve been creatively constipated, afflicted with doubt, [insert list of standard artistic ailments], etc.
Yesterday Sarah told me about this interview of Sam Beam, the guy behind Iron & Wine, on public radio and how he taught himself how to be a musician, how it was really just an accident, and how he believed in his vision and creativity with unyielding zeal (my words, not his or hers). There are many stories like this: Ira Glass, Patrick Rothfuss, and probably most artists who have brought their creations to fruition. They just kept going no matter the opposition.
I need to find this type of faith. I need to believe in my work. The opposition I face is that natty, annoying voice in my head that says it’s not good enough now and it won’t be good enough no matter how much work I put in. It doesn’t matter if it’s brain chemistry or learned behavior at this point, it simply needs to stop. Perhaps what I need is a ritual, a kind of exorcism for this evil spirit.
Yeah. Yeah, I think so.
When I return from Europe (see below), I’m going to head out to the land Sarah and I bought earlier this year and build a campfire. I’ll bunch up all this nauseating, ridiculous, pointless self doubt, heap it on the pyre, and conduct a ceremonial burning. Watch the flames. Will it all to dust so it can blow away on the ashes of summer.
Plans & Happenings
I leave this Saturday for a 10-day trip to Italy with my family! This one has been a long time coming, and I think we’re all excited to get some R&R in a Tuscan villa. I hope you enjoyed the recent Kentucky Bourbon Trail coverage. After I return from Italy, Scotland-focused posts will resume (perhaps with a Bourbon post here and there).