…completely beyond my capacities of temperament or skill…

Hello. Haven’t written here in a while. Too busy with the new book: “The Elephant on the Charles Bridge.” That new book is with three readers. And I am continuing to tinker, and to think about the story, and what serves the story, and what moves the story. If some piece of the novel is beautiful writing but does not 1) reveal character, or 2) advance the plot, then it gets cut. Five main characters in this book. And as many ancillary, and it weighs in at 90K words. Actually, now that I’ve written this out, it sounds insane, impossible, and well beyond my grasp. I have just now, pushed my chair back and stared at the screen. What have I done??? I’ve written five beings into the Prague night, and surrounded them with histories and her-stories, and it-stories. They are all so flawed and agitated and anxious and depressed…they have become my friends. Still, it seems like an impossible book. But, as Calvino said: “…most of the books I have written and those I intend to write originate from the thought that it will be impossible for me to write a book of that kind: when I have convinced myself that such a book is completely beyond my capacities of temperament or skill, I sit down and start writing it.”

Below is the riff that goes with the above picture….

The tall pines of board room #2144

Imagine this. You are in a meeting and the people around the table start to talk about the process of a process that will be used to develop a process. You want to sigh heavily and roll your eyes, but instead, you begin to draw small stick pine trees in your notebook. You draw a half-dozen trees and decide you like the feel of them – they’re all different, no two the same. You draw a dozen more, and then you are lost. You’re walking in a pine forest and the stranded sound of chickadees comes from far back. Whisky Jacks play coy – watch from the edge of your path for signs of food. A chipmunk protests. The air is suddenly fresh and cool-edged and sweet. You might notice your legs feel strong and your pack is not too heavy. Maybe you’ve wrapped a couple onion sandwiches in wax paper, and rolled a bottle of red in a T-towel. You probably slipped a poetry book, “The Poetry of Impermanence, Mindfulness, and Joy” into your pack, along with a knife and a puck of brie. You know for a fact you have a nice cigar, a Liga Privada Number 9, tucked into one of the side pockets. All these things are for later, when you’ve worked hard enough on the mountain to deserve the contents of your pack. You will not go back to the meeting, which has devolved into a conversation about the naming conventions of document files. You will stay in the pines. A manager named Gerta McConnel who is sitting at the head of the table will ask you a question, because she suspects you are elsewhere. You will look at her and say yes. You will say yes with an even, clear conviction, even though you do not know what her question was, and she will be pleased.

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