In it’s present, unfinished state, the manuscript stands at about one hundred and twenty-five thousand words (one twenty-six, actually). I’ve re-read and made adjustments to some one hundred thousand of those, on the way to completing a pass involving landing the story. I suppose that could be read as meaning I’m about finished. But the feeling I get isn’t that one; and when I wrote the words “going for the final push” on yesterday’s blogpost, I did not mean “a finished manuscript”. I meant: a complete first draft.
Basically, I don’t know what I’ll be working with at the revision stage, so long as I don’t land that complete first draft. My gut feeling is there’s another layer to it all – or, at the very least, something I’m not seeing yet. There’s also a special brand of anxiety that attaches to an almost-finished first draft; no matter what you may do in terms of tweaking or re-defining afterwards, whatever imprint you’ve given to the story is what you’ll be working with (or against) all along.
I have a strange relationship to this particular story, because it takes me, the writer, into a linguistic no-man’s land – at least, one that is considered such in the country in which this story is set. I’ve always avoided that zone, not so much because I’m a coward – at least, I don’t think so; more because it’s almost a foregone conclusion no one in the linguistic communities involved will a) want to publish this or b) approach it otherwise than defensively. It’s a bitch when you happen to inhabit a divide. There’s always one part of your community(ies) of origin willing to embrace you for the wrong reasons, and another part more than happy to accuse you of high treason for ignoring their historical and moral claims, whatever those may be. And if you happen to treat these highly charged issues with anything resembling levity or less than total solemnity, I wish you well since you’ll be getting the disapproval from all directions, at least in the country of your forefathers.
There’s no point in thinking about it. Any more than there would be a point to paying attention to the folks in the watchtowers on both sides, while crossing the valley on a high wire. For now, it’s about making the story be true to the characters. For the rest, qui vivra verra.
Photo done in Chenal-du-Moine, Québec, in the summer of 2004, just before leaving on what was to be a one-year trip to Eastern Europe.