Struggling with Two Titles

I find myself in the odd and unexpected situation of needing to revise two distinct novels in order to make them ready for publication. One is closer to publication than the other, but both require similar surgeries. The first of these is Plenum : The First Book of Deo. In principle, this is scheduled to appear in print March of next year, but although I have agreement from my editor on this, he has requested some changes and I find that not only do I concur, I believe that these changes have the potential to lift the book into a new level of intensity and closure. I have started this work, still in the early days of re-familiarizing myself with the details of the story, re-inserting myself into the process of writing and rewriting. The second of the two novels, Messioph : The First Book of Ido has no scheduled publication date, and is therefore of lower priority. I had hoped to finish the current draft before setting it aside, but I can no longer do that as the work on Plenum has become urgent. I had extensive feedback on Messioph from my writer friend Mary Thaler, and had been rewriting it to address the issues she raised, although I left the largest flaw until last, because I didn’t know how to address it.

Figure : Lemiscate (infinity symbol), illustration from my new novel Face Down

Writing is a process of stop and go. There are times the words just flow that are glorious, but then there are other times when each new sentence must be coaxed into being. Sometimes the plot stalls entirely, and you can’t force it to go forward. You just have to wait it out, be as present for the problems as you can manage, while dealing with the demands of everyday life, until, eventually, usually, clarity comes. This was my issue with Messioph. Clarity finally came, but I no longer have the time to do the work. I must set it aside, and hope the clarity will be still there when I pick it up again. These difficulties are why it is so hard to meet fixed deadlines in the world of novel writing.

My editor, who is himself a writer, a poet, said something quite extraordinary about the process of writing the other day. He said that until he has taken the work into his body, until he has grounded it inside himself, it is not ready to be presented to the world. I find this resonates strongly with the way I experience my own writing. The lesson he was drawing is that such a process cannot be rushed. You have to let the work find its own modes of existence and expression, and until it settles properly there is no point in trying to push it to completion. So even though I have a target deadline for the publication of Plenum, the work has to find its own way towards this goal.


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