My manuscript is due back tomorrow. I am going to be a little late. It is difficult, when time divides into mosaic shards to pull a book into focus. I have decided that I need to re-write a chunk of pages. Not too many. A series of clarifications have jumbled up against one another and now the section seems scrambled rather than clearer.
How I would love to give up the other work that breaks up my time. Develop an expertise in sustained concentration. In New Author Top Trumps, that would be my losing score, every time. But at least, if it were only my own habits that caused the fragmentation, not the need to do a scuffling number of other jobs, I would have greater impetus to marshal my magpie mind. More of the black and white, a bit less of the ‘oooh, shiny!’
The image shows a quote from Twice the Speed of Dark. There is a large part of the book written in the voice of Caitlin, trying to unravel both the confusing darkness of death and the story that lead her there. I loved writing these sections, letting an image, a sense of material, almost a painterly sensibility take over, less closely focused on the plot and psyche of the characters. I have decided that I will make a separate, illustrated book of this section, called Gravity. After the scritchy scratch of untangling words, it feels particularly tempting just now, to drift into the broad strokes of black and light, of shape and texture. Back to the gestural, sweeping easiness of visual art. I wonder if all writers feel these different systems at play, if I just describe the kinship to visual art because it is something I understand.
I have mild tinnitus, coffee makes my skin go white noise, none of my glasses are just right and words seem very small and tangled. How liberating a fat brush dripping with paint would feel. And yet, I would still chose these days, the writing equivalent of that fat brush. If, that is, I had the time.
In Twice the Speed of Dark, Caitlin has died, killed by her violent boyfriend. She has a voice that tells her part of the story, but death is a confusing, dark place:
“Understanding shivers, glimpsed briefly between slanted, slippery planes, then slides away. Understanding skids, finding no purchase on memories so faintly-grasped. Understandings are slender and slippery, fine satin ribbons that slides through my fingerless hands. Just as part of the story seems about to shimmer into place, I am let go again. Upside downside, inside outside, it is any way round in death.
Gravity has disowned me. I had not grasped what refuge she gave. I had not understood her subtle care. I have not been able to hold on as she let go. It takes enormous will to hold back the blackness when gravity is no longer your ally. She let go her embrace and I am pulled away to tumble, inchoate, through the eternal dark. “
Caitlin experiences death as if Gravity is a kindly entity that has let her go. She yearns for a form and surface, something that Gravity would be able to hold, to shelter. (Eventually, towards the end of the book she starts to regain agency and finds a way to interact with the exhilarating energies that now drive her.)
One of the rewards for a pledge towards getting my novel published is a hand-made booklet, called Gravity, that will be extracts of Caitlin’s words about the cosmos that flings her so carelessly and the massive powers to which she finds herself subject in the exhilarating and mysterious black realm of death. To that end, I have gone back to being an artist and have made some paintings that will form the basis of these booklets. In the booklets, the words will be incorporated into the illustration digitally. The images will also be available as a limited edition giclee print and the original art work is also available. All pledged will get you a copy of the book too, and your name in the front in acknowledgement of your vital support. Please share if you are able to. Here is a link if you are interested in the book and to see what other rewards are available for supporters.