from the Korean Army to being published

the blog of an "ex-patriot" writer in Korea

Random #14: This Was a Summer of Discontent

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I’ve spent the last three and a half months revising my second chapter and I’m still not finished. It took less than a month for the first. In my writing class, I tell my students that revision should take at least twice as long as the actual writing, but this is ridiculous. When I started revising in February, I set up two goals: find an agent by the end of March and finish editing by June. There were other goals but they were contingent upon the success of the book. It’s already September and I’m wondering if I’ll be able to accomplish either goal by the end of the year. Here’s to hoping for a more productive autumn and winter.

Writing during the academic school year has always been more productive for me. I normally finish teaching by lunch time and I have become very mechanical in my free time routine. Finish work, grab a sandwich from the coffee shop on campus for lunch, head to the coffee shop off-campus to write until around 9, then get a quick bite to eat at a diner near the coffee shop and a beer at the jazz bar if I’m not too tired. The programs during the summer and winter have odd hours and are labor-intensive. I’m usually so drained by the time class ends, my laziness takes over and I lie in bed and watch TV until I fall asleep.

Fall semester started yesterday but our classes start on Monday. My editor is back from Canada/Jamaica and it gives me peace of mind to be back in contact. These are the perfect conditions for the culture of my creative mind. The only question that remains is whether I can get back on the bull and write. I’ve been in a bit of slump and I don’t know whether it was because of the summer teaching load or some other emotional problem.

What was Doc’s trouble? Even he didn’t know. He was deeply, grievingly unhappy. For hours on end he sat at his desk with a yellow pad before him and his needle-sharp pencils lined up. Sometimes his wastebasket was full of crushed, scribbled pages, and at others not even a doodle went down. Then he would move to the aquarium and stare into it. And his voices howled and cried and moaned. “Write!” said his top voice, and “Search!” sang his middle voice, and his lowest voice sighed, “Lonesome! Lonesome!” He did not go down without a struggle. He resurrected old love affairs, he swam deep in music, he read the Sorrows of Werther, but the voices would not leave him. The beckoning yellow pages became his enemies.

– John Steinbeck, Sweet Thursday*

* The title of this particular chapter is “Whom the Gods Love They Drive Nuts.”


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