We follow, as humans, the odd convention of celebrating tens of things—birthdays, anniversaries, other milestones—as if the decade mark in itself had mojo.
In this small observation of tens I am no different from anybody else. I celebrated my 600th Sky Diaries post. Soon I’ll celebrate my 700th. And this weekend, I celebrated my 100th page of notes for the new book.
One hundred pages is an accomplishment of sorts, I guess, although it is rather an artificial one. One hundred pages is scant reason for rejoicing. Characters and plot are still trapped in the lines. Nuance and deeper meaning are mere shadows. If I might find any reason for joy, it is the increasingly rapid rate at which the ideas are stepping up; from thirty-ish pages to more than 100 in just over a week.
At two hundred pages, I will have more to cheer about. At two notebooks full, I will be ready not to note-take but to write.
And yet, the process itself has a strange alchemy. The notebook begins to take on magic as its pages fill. The thing begins to glow as I pluck the energies out of the air. The characters’ quirks come to live there. Chapter titles. Scenes. Relationships. Meaning. Depth. The notebook becomes the diary of a created reality.
The more heavily laden the mini-book becomes, the more superstitious I become about it. I guard it, I carry the little volume everywhere; it is never out of my sight. If anything were to happen to it, the novel would be finished; there is no way I could ever recapture the subtleties caught in the net of pages. Should there be a fire, I would rescue cats, laptop and notebook.
When the notebooks’ pregnancy has come to term, when they are so heavy with thoughts that it can no longer carry them, they will deliver themselves of their burden. I will midwife the thoughts into sentences, paragraphs and chapters. I know that I can’t attempt that ultimate delivering until the notebooks tell me to.
For now, I must simply cherish the process. There is no rushing it. No reasoning with it. I am the servant of process and steward of a mysterious world. I carry the notebook. I do its bidding. Because it is, to borrow the title of one of John Adams’ musical pieces, the body through which the dream flows.