Today is a designated off day from writing. I like to plan these in an obsessive way, as see below, last footnote, from a piece of my self-made January calendar:
You'll notice that I used different typefaces and colors--I find this soothing in an obsessive way. (I also feel that I have to account for why yesterday I only wrote 298 words, see footnote 1.) All the little imperatives--"Write!"--each is a goad and reminder, in (if you're interested) 10 pt. Papyrus.
My plans for this day off are amorphous. A bit of reading maybe. You'll notice in the photo that 13 Ways of Looking at the Novel is still around, and if had a stronger ense of duty I'd read some of that, since it's overdue again. But I believe that instead I'll be dipping into some of my Christmas books, probably one by Allan Sillitoe, Birthday, which is supposed to be a sequel to one of his big books, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning. The latter was one of those influential books for me (along with, among others, Lessing's The Golden Notebook and Woolf's To the Lighthouse).
Alan Sillitoe was a working class British writer, himself influenced by Hemingway, one of the "angry young men of the '50s," according to Wikipedia. Saturday Night was published in 1958, but it anticipated a lot of things about the '60s--sexual freedom, cutting loose from society, and so on, along with a good dose of anomie. I loved it. I found it when I was in my twenties, a young mother and not-so-happy wife, trying to think of a way to get out of what I'd done with my life. When Arthur Seaton walked away from his factory job and took to the road, I cheered.
Now, looking back, I can see another reason this was influential: Arthur was working class, and I think I responded to this, too. I hadn't read many (or maybe not any) novels about people who worked in a factory or a mill, people like, for instance, my father, who worked in Cleveland's steel mills for around 45 years. Alan Sillitoe must have seemed like a possible model to me, another working class child who had become a writer, as I wished to do.
I'm not expecting to be as transported and swept away by this newer book as I was by Saturday Night when I was in my twenties. For one thing, this is 30 years later, and I'm not the same person. For another, there is something to be distrusted in the long-time-coming sequel, something attenuated, suggesting fatigue, the equivalent of bringing out another Friday the 13th movie. And finally, I think I might find Sillitoe's treatment of women less engaging now. Arthur Seaton was the only one who got to have any fun; his wife got left with their squalid flat and the baby; his girlfriend got saddled with another baby, while Arthur sails off at the end to do some political act (gun running?).
But I'm interested to see what Sillitoe has come up with, so I'll give it a shot.
footnote: I only wrote 298 words yesterday because it was the end of a section and I didn't know what came next. I'm hoping it will come to me while my brian lies fallow. I know that Jason is going to take up lucid dreaming, but I fear I have to get back to Carl and his suicidal friend first.
footnote 2: Note in the picture that I take seriously the duty of a writer to be well-hydrated.
footnote 3: calendar:
January 2006 23 writing days
Jan1 Jan 2 Jan 3 Jan 4 Jan 5 Jan 6 Jan 7
Write! Write Write Off Write Write Write
866 w 1058 w 298 w