(Originally written August 8, 2007 at 3:39pm EST)
If I don’t write this now, I’ll never get to it.
So as I write this I’m motoring towards Chicago from Minneapolis on the Eastbound Empire Builder Train #28. As these things seem to go, I’m on the ass-end of the train, four cars back from beverages and snacks and three more still from the dining car. I skipped breakfast and lunch because the hike might have killed me in my weakened condition.
The last few days have been more productive and inspiring that even I would have thought possible. We are approximately seven chapters from completing a first draft of Isle of Shadows.
Completed chapters were handed off, and as usual, when I hand off chapters I immediately regret having not checked them properly for coherency, cohesion, and completeness. I was starting to go through from the beginning checking for continuity, using a nice Moleskine specifically purchased for Isle, when I noticed a hand-written draft of Chapter Six. I pulled up my .doc version, and sure enough as these things happen more and more, my handwritten draft has more of everything. Which means RJ can ignore the Chapter 6 he got two months ago but probably as already made edits to, in favor of the one sitting in his e-mail box now. *grin*
There will be lots of this going on in the next few months as we can finally see that light at the end of this tunnel. Then we start the process of going over every single page while attempting to see the big picture. That’s a lot harder than it sounds, because we’ve been looking at this thing for over a year now in bits and pieces and chapters as stand along works, so every time we get together, there’s a head-slapping moment where we say – “how do we explain …?” “did we talk about?” “you know, I think we killed ____ twice.”
The last few days were really a lot of fun and we managed to condensed a lot into just over 50 hours. There’s something to said about knowing you have a limited time with a person and wanting to cram as much as possible in the time you have. The three nights I was there I can tell you we not only disrupted our circadian cycles, we took them out back and had them shot. I can vividly remember Monday night, taking a walk to a safe vantage point of the to view the remains of the 35W bridge where we wouldn’t fall to our deaths with a misstep or worse be harassed by the fuzz. We’d been writing for hours and needed a break. As we walked the nearly deserted streets, I knew I was in trouble.
When I get tired, I see things, and when it’s bad I get sound with the images. I was still in the basic visual hallucination coda when I saw a sign for a money transfer storefront.
It said “Ammal Money Wire”. I was positive it read “Anal” so much that it was on my triple check as we passed that my brain stopped substituting letters.
“What’s so funny?” RJ asked, a note of concern in his voice that my mirth had something to do with him.
“That doesn’t say ‘anal’,” I said between giggles, “but now I want to see it done.”
I’m sure RJ was laughing *with* me.
Later on that Sunday night/Monday morning walk, somewhere around 4ish, I hallucinated a full ad for Faygo Red Pop before I snapped back to reality.
When I visited back in June, I’d told him that there was a cow standing by the cart corral. Had we been anywhere near a grocery store and maybe drinking heavily I could have waved it off, but I’m pretty sure I was in the middle of a fairly rational sentence on the couch in the living room.
All of this to say that when I travel to Minneapolis to write, I do so at my own peril, both to my liver (though not so much this time due to the seriously compressed time) and my mind. That’s why I either don’t tell people I’m going out there or I don’t visit when I do. It’s important to channel those psychotic breaks into the creative process as opposed to telling some random stranger about cattle in the parking lot and taking a specialized tour of the Medical Center’s psyche floor.
I wouldn’t change this collaborative partnership for anything. It really is turning into one of the best creative experiences I’ve ever had. We’re already talking about the next project – which is a very good sign that we’re not sick of each other just yet.