all my exiles

Are not there little chapters in everybody's life, that seem to be nothing, and yet affect all the rest of the history? -- William Makepeace Thackeray, Vanity Fair

This poem has been knocking around in my head today. Not because I've lost a continent or lovely cities, thank goodness. But I was thinking dangerously this morning, thinking about how it's April, how it's 2009, how long it is taking to write this novel of mine.

(And I seriously need to stop thinking like that. The "how long" whine is as tedious as microwaved coffee.)

I felt a little better--perversely--when I realized how much I've written. Because it's not like I can't muster the page-power.

I've written four novels-worth of pages, at least. Maybe five. (Six?) Looking at my writing room, I can half-see all those scrapped sections and cut chapters. Drafts of old maps--maybe I've lost a continent after all. A few characters that lived and died and no one else will ever know about them. Piles of names. And that heap, over there, are used and discarded plot twists. Flawed or clich├ęd or just no longer fitting my story, but they've still existed, however briefly.

It's an odd, ghostly feeling. Not at all sad, though. I've gotten (somewhat) used to the sting of throwing out pages (and whole sections... and whole drafts). I know that the final book, whenever it's finished, will be all the better for everything it's lost.

But there really should be some sort of empire for these castaways, shouldn't there? A place for the limping, foolishly named characters who say the wrong things, where dull surprises happen constantly, and tangents expand over more chapters than they ever should, like water unbraiding behind a boat.


  1. Your last paragraph makes me smile...I wish I could write like that!

  2. Jenn, you are wonderful and the last paragraph made me want to give your foolishly named characters warm chocolate chip cookies. Loved it!
    -Pook and Fritz

  3. I'm so glad you both liked it!! And Pook&Fritz, I'm sure that my castaways would relish any kind of cookie, warm or no. You could set up a bakery stand.