136 Days of Rewriting a Novel

There is only the novel. In a snowy world somewhere two people dressed in green follow a trail of fire. The flames are a strange color and the person is thinking of everything the reader missed since he last appeared. He has to think of them in the right order. The thoughts must make the reader believe that anything is possible, but nothing is improbable. And while every line of inner dialogue has to move the plot forward and continue to keep it sealed tight it also must foreshadow the things the reader does not know yet. This is the way that future moments will stay probable when anything can happen.

The writer thinks about that world, and then writes about it somewhere else, in a letter to three readers who have been reading the correspondence for some time now. The readers do not exist, they are only alive in the mind of the writer, just like the fiction. They exist to write about, just another story.

You are reading this. You exist in my mind. Anything is possible but never improbable. If I don’t believe in magic I cannot write. This is all really happening somewhere. it’s just that the somewhere is in my head. Everything you are thinking about right now is made up and only exists in your mind. If you believe the same thing as someone else, than you are both imagining the same thing. the details will change with each person. I pray to a god of nothing, because he made it up in a story.

*

Meagen and I were in her art room the other night looking at her paintings. I go and visit her a lot since we are married and live together. The art room is hers though, the living room is mine. It works out. I need spaces designed for other uses (your libraries, coffee shops, etc.) and she needs a room sequestered to horde stacks of art inside.

I don’t often talk to my partner about her paintings. I think in some ways they are daunting. I told Meagen the other night, being in love with her has certainly challenged my beliefs about art.

And it’s true.

Whether it’s poetry or paintings she works with abstract form. We were talking about her stuff and the paintings of others (what sells what doesn’t, how other people view those types of works) and I was struck by the idea of instructions.

She has this huge piece on a home-rigged easel (she uses dice and duct tape to keep it from falling off the slanted board). She’s been working on it for months, changing it a little each day, over and over again. It’s how she does all her things. I was looking around the room when I realized I finally began to understood her work.

Art needs instructions. I am drawn to certain pieces of hers because my brain can make out half forms of shapes. They are familiar but just enough to leave my brain trying to figure the pictures out, forever. Like the unfinished sentences of poetry, everything stays fluid and ever changing. The meaning exists in my own interpretation. But that interpretation needs instruction, a walkway into the work. For the abstract it’s shapes that seem familiar at first and then open up into something else. For poetry it’s certain words that when put together cause a friction of familiar and strange.

It made me realize that Meagen is writing her own instructions when she spends months changing little things. She’s trying to see something so that she can show it to others. Just like writing a chapter, over and over again like I do. I need to see my fiction clearly and believe it before it will work the same for someone else.

Art needs instructions.

*

I am still working two jobs, almost every day of the week. It is a nightmare. I am exhausted to new heights. Making art keeps me from being depressed, the high of finishing a piece of a project still has no earthly moment in equality. But making shit inevitably leads to stress, and stress leads back to depression. I am so stressed out. But it’s like, at a new level. I feel it differently. Like someone who was drowning for years might get used to the water. I can breathe, and I can keep my head up.

I am waiting to hear back from the manufacturer.

I need to finish the comic book.

I need to begin the next set of cards.

I need to work on songs.

I need to upload a podcast and write blogs.

I need to pay my bills before they take everything.

I need to fix things with my friends.

There is only the novel. In a world of frozen wasteland two people follow flames of a strange color. They are following it to safety, and I follow them to the end of the chapter. I can hear everything they are thinking if I concentrate. I just need to write them down in the best order. The reader will need instructions. I’m trying to find them. There is only the novel.

-mE.

Todd Rogers