Mostly because I had other fish to fry. However, my experience writing SILVER BROWN (and subsequently 2021’s project for National Novel Writing Month, which was an offshoot of SILVER BROWN) came up as a topic whilst chatting with somebody I met once on one of those crazy apps. The conversation fizzled soon after I brought up the talking ferret, but it got me thinking about what kind of grand artistic endeavour I should tackle next. During the holidays, I spontaneously jotted down something in the notepad on my phone to that effect, which I’ll have to wait until the end of the academic year to pursue in earnest.
Several weeks of being grossly distracted by other things have come and gone. In my absence, new life germinated in some literary world of my own devising I temporarily abandoned. The intricacies of that world were the same ones they were before. They were merely re-experienced with a beginner’s mind. A mind that had just finished unlearning what it had learned.
Due to its potency, and the bevy of perils that could possibly be wrought from its misuse, methinks written prose should ideally be allowed time to breathe prior to consumption. Like a bottle of wine. Or this guy’s brain. Take your pick.
Specifically, it is foolhardy to publicize a written work on the same day it was composed. You have to sleep on it at least once before entertaining any vague notion of letting somebody else read it. At the (very unfortunate) risk of sounding like your mama, a good night’s rest assists both the body and the mind to purge themselves of waste. Which is kind of important. After a good mindshitting, you’re a new (wo)man. You can approach your work with a clearer conscience. This is something my crazy boss never understood. The one with the magna cum laude degree from Harvard who went insane and stabbed a dude. Sleep was taboo to her. She could never be bothered to excrete her own mindshit because she was too busy running the world, and eventually found herself with a massive pulsating backlog of that ectoplasmic goop which ruptured all over the news.
The work itself likewise needs time to sit and rest periodically. Sometimes the best thing to do with a project is put it off to the side and not fuck with it for a while. Just let it age, like Kentucky bourbon. A quote that’s stuck with me for many years is that enlightenment is like a cat. If you chase after it, it will run from you. But if you remain still and free your mind of expectations, the cat will jump right into your lap. It’s good that I can just allow the cats to come to me now, after many years of working for somebody who was always insistent on chasing them (and extremely hostile towards any suggestion that chasing them might not be the best way to go). One of those cats just told me to leak more information about the nature of the Environment in the chapter I’m editing now. But not too much.