Hello, Thursday. We are under a flash flood watch–yay, and the river is high! Good times–and this week has kind of gone to waste. I’m struggling with a chapter–it just reads so terribly, and I’ve only managed about 700 words all week–and I just haven’t been able to face it.
Partly because…partly because it’s about a teenager from Chicago who goes to the rural south for the summer to stay with his grandmother, who is dying, and stumbles into some troubled family history and some current local trouble as well. It’s a story I really want to tell, but I am having trouble with the elements of the story on some levels, and then I fall into that wretched state of doubt, in which I hate my WIP and everything about it and question whether I am actually a writer or not.
Lather, rinse, repeat.
My friend Victoria for years has pointed out to me that this usually happens to me at around Chapter Seven or so on a manuscript; I suppose the fact that it didn’t happen until Chapter Fourteen is progress of a sort.
The great irony is that I was doubting–and have been doubting–myself over the concept of sending a gay kid to the rural South; someplace deep and remote away from the urban landscapes he’s used to, and going back and forth on the homophobia; oh, maybe it’s not as bad as I am trying to make it look, things have changed, times have changed, the Internet and cable television have changed things, so it can’t still be as bad as it was and I am writing about a world that doesn’t really exist in this form anymore.
And then I see the news report about the small town Alabama mayor who thinks all queer people should be killed to solve the issue of culture wars.
The small town Alabama mayor whose small town is where the off-ramp from the highway is that we used to take to go visit the family.
Which was another forty miles deep into the country and in the hills of northwest Alabama.
And I realize I’m not making the area backward enough.
I finished watching Chernobyl last night, and while I do recommend it as incredible television, well written, superbly acted, and with the highest production values imaginable, it is not an easy watch, nor is it something you want to go into watching when you’re already depressed because you may not ever come out of it. This horrific nuclear disaster–which created an unlivable area now in present-day Ukraine and Belorus (uninhabitable for twenty thousand years)–was even worse than I remember hearing about when it happened; I remember the news coverage and the concerns that the Soviet Union–never quite a bastion of honesty–was lying about how bad it was and the extent of the disaster. Watching Chernobyl, it’s terrifying to realize how much worse it could have been, and how hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people sacrificed themselves to save others. It’s also interesting to watch from the perspective of seeing what it was like to live under the authoritarian Communist rule, and how the higher-ups, the people who ran the country, were all about image and protecting their reputations and that of the state than the every day citizens, whom were called up fairly regularly to throw away their lives on the altar of the State and its glory and never taken into consideration as actual people, with lives and dreams and hopes and families. The firefighters, who were called out to do their jobs and put out the fire at the plant and had no idea what they were getting into and were never told is heartbreaking; the perspective of one, and his pregnant wife, is a story that will haunt me for quite some time.
Now I can get back to Good Omens.