Writing a novel has been really good for all of my other chores. I find a million and one excuses to keep me from actually sitting down and writing it. Today it was folding my laundry, fixing my bike, shoveling snow, taking a shower, and oh wow! now it’s already time for dinner. Yesterday and the day before I rearranged my room and set up my bookshelf. I even went to a Walt Whitman-inspired open mic and ended up winning runner up in a competition for $100 to see who had the best Whitman-inspired piece of poetry.
That piece was written on the same road trip that this novel is about. We started the trip reciting passages from Leaves Of Grass in the voices that Kerouac and Cassady must have used when they were traveling on the road together back in the days when the Beats were still learning how to rhyme. Eventually we were writing pieces in the same style and one of them that I read last night was judged as second best in a room of Whitman scholars.
The piece is a list of all the cows I saw on the road from here in Philadelphia all the way to San Francisco and back again. A play on the pastoral, set in every type of landscape both urban and otherworldly you can see in this country. Using this nation’s top industry to describe the beauty that these bovine often cause environmental havoc upon.
I guess for me, what stuck out about Walt Whitman is the sense that he’s always making lists. Listing the tiniest details about an odd assortment of working class people and their environment to create a collage of the industrial revolution he witnessed in his lifetime in America. He talked about both the positives and the negatives but let them speak for themselves. And in a sense there was romance in all of the things that he saw, even if some of them were terrible.
The cow piece was a fun piece to write. I had fun having a chance to let it be heard out loud. Didn’t expect much in the way of competition so was happily surprised with its reception.
Anyway, back to the novel…I think it’s a good one. I want to share it with you before it’s published. Open it up to a dialogue. Let you read the pages I’m really proud of.
Like the chapter I wrote last week about Yosemite Valley. I just read it again this afternoon. About ten or fifteen times. That’s another thing I do while writing this novel. Get hung up on chapters that I’m really proud of and then second guess myself that I’ll ever be able to write something as good again. Forget that there’s been plenty of bad novels published that have still been enjoyed by someone. The trick is to just finish them.
So yeah, I’m still writing. Today I’m starting a little later than I would’ve liked to and that’s okay because it’s a miserable winter day outside and I took care of all my other errands that were bogging me down. I’ll keep sharing my progress as it comes.
If you’d like to read the poetry about cows or that chapter about Yosemite Valley go take a look at my Patreon. You can throw me some doll hairs and read my writing. The support will motivate me to keep going on it. Maybe I can even finish it by the end of next month and get started on the next one. There are two novels in my head that have been sitting patiently while I finish writing this one. Anyway, I’d love you to see its pieces and to hear what y’all think. I have a feeling the campaign will be constantly evolving as well, so expect more announcements and other rewards to develop.
Thanks for everyone who’s taken a peek over there. I know there’s plenty of other things to support right now. Travel made me more humble and I’m content with however it all turns out, but think it’s fun to share the process.
Become a patron: http://www.patreon.com/marshalljameskavanaugh