What Are You Working On?
My own project, however, is a diaristic novel about a Christian girl in the Midwest. The narrator is very religious and very curious, which makes for a humorous and tragic mix of perspectives and events: culture crashing against the culture, saints doomed to be sinners, and sinners, unwitting saints. I'm almost through with this particular draft, and anticipate at least two substantive revisions.
This book actually originated with a non-fiction essay I wrote many years ago, which I immediately began to revise and push, until I realized I was writing fiction. I was also recognizing that there were a number of texts I needed to read before I could continue. So I put the project down and read for almost two years (and wrote Requiem, which is a collection of short fiction), then began again with this new draft about ten months ago. The thematic concerns of the book are abstract and metaphysical, and so it needed the concreteness of fiction (the gesture, the voice, the description, the perception) as its revelatory mode. Like the soul needs its body.
This is a very character-driven book, and my first novel, which means I've been facing the challenges of the novice, including learning about the main character and who she is -- which is not me. Writing fiction is like listening very carefully to different pitches of voice, and if I lose concentration, I'll realize I've smeared myself all over the past few paragraphs or pages.
Aesthetically, I'm very interested in Biblical narrative structures and language, and it's been fun to play with these elements in the work, especially as the character is so earnest. Also, I get very excited about sentences and the logic of grammar, especially when I suddenly see how certain structures are working in particular sections of the book. I find immense pleasure in the precision of sentences. Finally, I must admit, it's a fun book to read aloud to people, though I need to try harder not to laugh.
My goal is to finish the book by the end of the year, and then I'll start looking for a publisher.
Oct 20, 2005 story in The Olympian about Les Fuges Press
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published 2 Mar 06 on Too Beautiful. email copyright 2006 Mark Pritchard, Bernal Heights, San Francisco