Starting from scratch

This morning we have the kind of snow that happens when the sky feels too lazy to really snow: occasional giant flakes that can’t decide whether they’re going up or down. I know the feeling.

When I came back from vacation in September, I mentioned having an idea for a new project. I started it this weekend. It’s a novelish collection of stories, or a short storyish novel, with two threads of narration to tie it together. The sort of thing I can work on in shorter stretches, if necessary.

It’s an experiment in another way for me as well. I’ve been thinking a lot about a comment in a John McPhee essay in the New Yorker that I read a few weeks ago. I don’t have the issue, or even the date of the issue, so I can’t give the quote. Basically, it said that new writers need to spend a lot of time trying things out before they know what they should be writing.

In terms of writing years, I count as a young writer. I don’t know what I should be writing yet. I’m kind of like a mechanic with a great big pile of shiny tools in my toolbox, and not enough practical experience to know which ones should be on top, and which ones I should put in storage.

It feels like time to start from scratch. It’ll be all messy pages and dead ends and trying to find the place where the words come true. Hopefully, I’ll learn something from it.

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