answer with openness and candor: "who am i?"
We have a progressive word count again, because it is so warranted, because I don't know what else I have to offer right now. After a month in Reno where neither my time nor my space were my own, I've made a deep retreat into hermitage. Almost no one I know in this city is around at present, and all my thoughts cluster around the nascent book, which is bad for this site because the books are one of the few things I don't like to discuss here in specific detail. Hence entries like this one.
Approaching Zero was the first novel I tried to write, with the exception of the eighth-grade sci-fi epics and Living Creatures, my stupid undergraduate road-trip book that none shall see and live. I wrote the first draft (then titled The Dying President) in 2000, coming off nothing but the vague idea that it would be really cool to write about South America... and math! One can imagine the results. Nobody saw that draft except my family, and Nik, and Jen, and Laurenwho may still have an extant copy. I asked her to destroy it, but I don't know whether she complied.
I started a rewrite that winter, but it didn't go well because I was spending too much time alone and sometimes alcohol or cannabis would do lots of the writing for me, so the next day I would find that I had written myself helpful notes like "Time for the earthy birth teleological smackdown!" I don't know what that means, and neither do you. In spring 2001 I started from scratch again and plotted out the whole thing with fifty or sixty Post-Its stuck to the wall, and stayed inside all day and got to 50,000 words before I realized that the plot hadn't even started yet. Later I put up an excerpt in workshop because I was trying to finish Song of Roland and didn't have anything else to offer, and the reaction was predictable. Someone called it "Nancy Drew in the Third World."
There was another abortive rewrite the second year at Iowa, with another very pretty schematic taped to the wall, but it didn't work out because I was too busy with projects that were actually going somewhere. And now here it is again. The damn thing finally has a plot, at least, but I can't speak for anything else. My hope is that all the prior failed drafts have fulfilled the enormous quota of throat-clearing that comes with any project. I'd like to think that all the puerile philosophical crap, all the boring self-indulgent pomo tricks, are finally out of the way, and I can finally tell a story.