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Feeding My Brain

So Jak recovered from his respiratory illness, never had a positive antigen test, and I never caught it (unless somehow the same bug gave us mutually exclusive symptoms, if that even is possible). So it looks like we have most likely managed to continue dodging Covid.

Lovely as much of that trip was, it pretty much used up my risk tolerance for the foreseeable future. I’m hunkered down in my (half of a) house now eyeing Omicron 5 with horror.

The news this week is that I’m writing fiction again. I hadn’t touched my novel-in-progress in probably a year and a half, in part because I was doing a fair bit of paid proofreading and web work in 2021, plus many hundreds of hours spent in renovation research and planning — though I did write several nonfiction essays and then surprised myself with a short story (completed this past spring, currently waiting interminably at my second choice of markets).

But now that we’ve returned from our trip, the epic behemoth series is back in play. As I wrote back in September 2020, I had determined that what I had planned to be the first book was going to come in much too long, and decided that I needed to separate the two main points of view into two different books. I started that process, and then … I don’t remember anymore what happened, exactly, but other things took over.

But I’m in it again now. Over the first couple of days I took a two-paragraph flashback and rewrote it into a new 1600-word prologue, one that I’m pretty happy with now (thanks in part to a critical note from Jak on my first attempt), and now I’m reorganizing all the early scenes and chapters. Now that I no longer have to zipper Noemi’s timeline with Estera’s, it makes sense to tighten some things up and move things around. It’s a lot like taking a patchwork quilt, ripping out all the seams, setting aside a few of the patches, cutting a couple of different ones, and then restitching everything in a new pattern.

Anyway, I’ve left off prosing for the moment to work out a revised timeline and outline, which includes nailing down some worldbuilding details that weren’t finalized, like: exactly what longitude are my different landmasses at, how fast does my ship go at different latitudes and wind directions, and therefore how long does Noemi’s first sailing trip take?

The thing about working on (any part of) the behemoth — which is different from essay-writing and even from short-story writing — is that it’s so large and complex it requires my entire brain; I get completely immersed and hyperfocused and don’t want to do anything else, except sleep. Even eating is pretty minimal these days (although that may have as much to do with readjusting after travel and illness as with writing focus). Yesterday I worked on it for around eleven or twelve hours straight, then realized I was exhausted and hadn’t planned the week’s meals or done the (online) shopping yet. And the only solid food I ate all day was a few ounces of leftover salmon. It’s like I can feed my brain or my body, but not both.

Published inPandemicWriting

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