"Inspiration descends only in flashes, to clothe circumstances, it is not stored up in a barrel, like salt herrings, to be doled out." Patrick White 1912-1990 "Voss" (1957) ch.2
I've been slogging along all week retyping and editing old parts of my manuscript, waiting for inspiration to strike like one of Zeus's lightening bolts out of the blue. This exercise, designed to get me back into the groove, has partially served to discourage me when I see how much of what I had previously written is, although interesting information, not condusive to forwarding the plot and generally weakens the narrative. A great deal of it will have to go. And I'm having to be tough with myself, marking with red on the pages and editing as I go. I'm not taking time to rewrite longer passeges at the moment, just doing some line editing and scribbling editing notes in margins. Meanwhile, I'm waiting for a surge of inspiration so I can get on with the new parts and finish the book.
The other night a friend came over and we spent most of the evening discussing various subjects such as my time in Greece and also my writing. He's a historian so he finds the subjects of great interest and this is good for me, because he enjoyed having me talk about how I'm constructing the story, what research I've done etc. Most of my other friends (aside from my writer's group where I workshop my writing) are kind of in the dark or bored with my discourses about Alexander's world. My friend G. understood when I told him how I felt a part of that world, and that I 'knew' the characters involved in it. And it was good for me to talk about it. This is something I miss, because when I was spending time in Athens, when my friend Roberto was still alive, we would talk and talk about the novel and the characters and through talking it out I'd get loads of new ideas and insights. There are no longer the group of classical scholars and historians hanging out (usually at Roberto's table) at the To Kati Allo in Athens as there used to be. And the only one who I spoke to in length to me about the novel was my friend Dinaz who is my reader critic. (She has a copy of most of the MSS there and will do a complete reader's critique on it when it's totally finished. She knows the history -- she's Persian.) I get a similar feed-back from my friend the Babylonian as these two people know that to me they are very like characters in my story. Every time I see the Babylonian he asks how I'm progressing with the book. This is good, as I need to talk about it from time to time. So the discussion I had with G. on Wednesday night was very meaningful to me.
Yesterday I went downtown to see if my memoirs "Writing in the Park" group was going to go ahead. Only two had registered, so I was certain it would be cancelled. Lo and behold, six ladies showed up so it's on for the month of July. This is an inspiration to me as far as memoir writing and sharing writer's knowledge with these wonderful women. Afterwards I went to the Park and had a nice long swim. I took along recent chapters of my novel and reread them. Very little editing was needed and it made me feel more encouraged. I'm hoping that by next week I'll be on a roll again. You will co-operate with me, won't you Muse?
It's been a quiet week for me, getting back down-to-earth after my trip, revisiting Alexander's world, cleansing my body and mind so that I can focus entirely on my writing. I'm in the fourth day of a six-day total detox and cleansing fast. So far so good. By next week, with a clean body and mind, I should be ready to roll!
"My holy of holies is the human body, health, intelligence, talent, inspiration, love and the most absolute freedom imaginable, freedom from violence and lies, no matter what form the latter two take. Such is the program I would adhere to if I were a major artist."
Anton Pavlovich Chekhov 1860-1904
(Letter to A.S. Suvorin, Oct 17, 1888)