It’s a searing afternoon here in Mondoville, currently feeling like about 102 or 103 degrees. Fortunately for me, I’m indoors, and have every intention of staying that way. I’m also putting off working on a short video I have to make tomorrow, but so I can feel like I’m actually doing something, here we are.
I’m continuing to punch away on the book I’m working on this term. I seem to be about 20-25% of the way to where I want to be. BGW was a short novel at 50,000 words; I’m hoping to come up with something more substantial this time. But as is common for many writers, the process has not been without its struggle.
When I wrote BGW, it flowed really naturally. Part of it was that Kenny’s voice was one I knew pretty well, and part of it was probably sheer naivete. Even so, I got bogged down about halfway through, until a suggestion from my guru at the time (the late James Baker Hall) gave me an event that provided the scaffolding to continue to where I wanted to go. [Side note: Jim died 13 days after my folks did, three days after their funeral, and two days after the death of Hobbes, the family cat. Bad week, that.] After that, it was just a case of having days where I could bang out a couple of thousand words or so without getting caught by my boss at the magazine.
This book is not happening with the same fluency. It’s an amateur sleuth mystery (though not a cozy), but it also seems to be really introspective and discursive, driven by my narrator’s character more than by a puzzle or plotline. (Now that I think about it, I could see it as working the same side of the street as Jeff Abbott’s character Jordan Poteet.) This in turn led me to a confidence crisis, so I decided to chat a bit with the Spawn. I bounced what I had off of her, and she managed to convince me that I am in fact on a decent track, and that I shouldn’t punt. It’s nice to have an encouraging, thoughtful reader — especially when you’ve grown her yourself.
Speaking of the Spawn, she and the Main Squeeze are beginning a new semester in Terpville, and both seem happy with their classes thus far. It’s not quite as good as hearing about her day with her in the room, but I’m glad to hear she’s doing well.
On the education front, my employer noted today that our grads carry the least student loan debt of any South Carolina 4-year school, public, or private. We’ve also been recognized in the past for our excellent record in helping our kids attain social mobility. A lot of our kids are first-generation college students, many from disadvantaged backgrounds in this poor, largely rural state. While some of our students could prosper anywhere, many of them require the extra work we have to do in order for them to succeed. Knowing that we’re helping them improve their lives — and the lives of the generations that succeed them — without chaining them to crippling levels of debt is a genuine source of satisfaction.
I need to get back to work, but why not wrap things up with a song. I know almost nothing about the Canadian band (also including members from the UK and Latvia(!)) called the Liverpool Set, but I know they did a couple of pretty cool songs, and apparently did some recording in my home town of Nashville about the time I was born. This was the B-side of their second (and penultimate) single, from rock and roll’s annus mirabilis, 1966. It starts out with an intro cribbed from “Act Naturally” before settling into a nice Byrdsy jangler, penned by the Latvian guy. This is “Change Your Mind.” Who said that longing can’t be upbeat?
See you soon!