Sunday, August 29, 2010

Square One

Last week, seven inches into a gift sock for a friend, I realized that I'd been knitting the lace pattern wrong. Nothing for it but to rip the whole thing and start from scratch with a new cast-on. I'm now almost up to where I was when I realized my mistake, and the sock indeed looks much nicer. (Luckily, I realized my error when I was still on the first sock!)

Last night, I settled down to work on the novel for the first time in over a month, and couldn't produce a word. Part of this is because the book's about the aftermath of a woman's death, and she has a son, and since I just lost my own mother, the material hits too close to home right now. In time, my own experience will, I hope, make the book better, but my nerves need to toughen up a bit first.

I was originally supposed to deliver the completed manuscript September 1. Obviously, that's not happening, and my agent and editor are being very understanding. But one of the reasons I couldn't write last night, quite aside from exposed nerve endings, was because what I'd written most recently sucks -- me? mince words? -- and I couldn't stand the idea of throwing good writing after bad, as it were.

When I woke up this morning, I realized that what I need to do is start the book again from the beginning, just like I did with the sock. Two hundred pages of a novel is a slightly bigger deal than seven inches of knitting, true, but I always knew I'd have to go back and make major revisions. I'd initially planned to finish the first draft and then revise the whole thing, but I can't finish the book without a better sense of what the new material will look like, so instead of drafting a hundred pages destined for the trash, I'll go back to the beginning now. With any luck, I can salvage chunks of the existing two hundred pages.

Meanwhile, I'm back to working on really basic fiddle skills, too, like proper posture and hand positions. I'd developed some sloppy habits on Felicity that won't work on Viviana. In the long run, this is for the best, even if it's frustrating right now. I'm trying to practice an hour a day, but until I get a proper shoulder rest, I'll have to break that into half-hour or fifteen-minute chunks. I did a solid hour this afternoon, and my back's letting me know about it.

Tim's supposed to get a Kun viola rest in next week. (He's including that, along with the new bow and strings, in the purchase price.) I tossed the funky shoulder rest he gave me because it scratched the viola's varnish, although not seriously. My Kun violin rest sort of works, if I stretch it as far as it will go and wrap it in flannel so it won't mark the back of the instrument, but it really doesn't provide enough support, and I'll be very happy to have the right equipment.

Flask sent me sheet music of a viola tune for my birthday (I think she wrote the tune, too!). How incredibly sweet is that? But since I play by ear and don't read music -- not all that unusual in the folk world, which is an aural tradition more than a written one -- I'm hoping that she or Charlene can send me a soundfile.

And yeah, I know I need to learn to read music at some point. But Charlene doesn't seem concerned (she's pleased with how quickly I pick up tunes by ear), and it's not one of my top priorities. After I finish the book, maybe.


  1. Reading music isn't hard! Enjoy your viola!

  2. Starting again. How many times in life do we "start again". This could be another one of those messages from the universe; fresh start, second look at things, new beginnings, another stage in life.

  3. Anonymous4:50 PM

    Susan, if you'd like to get together to bat the book back and forth a little bit maybe we can get together later in the week or, oh I was going to say this weekend. But I think you have plans for the weekend, don't you?



Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.