“When your novel is not working, it just lies there in pieces on the page, leaking vital fluids all over your desk,” says Philip Gerard in his essay, “An Architecture of Light.”
My novel isn’t working, so I’m tearing it apart. More like I’m ripping its spine out, like I saw someone do at the end of a round of Mortal Kombat once.
With the help of two guardian angels I just started taking a class at Grub Street, “where Boston gets writing.” And it’s amazing. The other students are smart and talented, and the teacher’s funny and real and brings great things for us to read like the essay above.* So yesterday it was my turn to read a few pages of my work out loud, and when I opened my mouth that’s when the novel, such as it is, started leaking out, dripping onto my lap and pooling on the floor.
I left feeling so embarrassed that I’d just shared this not-working thing with the class, and on my walk back to the T station across Boston Common I started crying and had to put on my sunglasses even though it was 10 o’clock at night. Then this afternoon I took a really long nap, and went to the bookstore to read parts of a bunch of books that are more like the one I want to write, and now I’m ripping out its spine.
Today I’m feeling only halfway self-pitying. More than that, I just hope I turn out to be a really good surgeon.
*You can read “An Architecture of Light” for free online, here — it starts on page 148.