DEAR FRIENDS, 3/26/2012

The Only Way to Build a Road is to Pour Asphalt

I’ve been thinking lately about how difficult it is to make progress on a poem or a story, in my case right now my new novel, SAMOVAR AND ZEEMAHOOLAH. In other words, this is another blog about getting my or your work done. And this week I’ve been remembering something my old, now dead, pal, Hayden Carruth said again and again: The only way to build a road is to pour asphalt. In other words, in order to get the job done you have to work at it. And if you don’t work at it, it don’t get done.
I’ve been pouring some asphalt this week. This has been a good week of work on SAMOVAR AND ZEEMAHOOLAH. They both, I mean Samovar and Zeemahoolah, have become real people for me, er, I mean characters. It is so much fun to watch pigments in my colorful imagination become real and have personalities of their own and do things I don’t expect them to do.
I’ve been surprised, for example, at how much Samovar and Zeemahoolah argue with each other. I had no idea they would do that.
It’s also little things that lead to big things, like for example, at the end of Chapter 2, Samovar and Zeemahoolah are in the FixIt Shop where they are about to take over Zeemahoolah’s mother’s business of fixing lamps now that she has been murdered. Zeemahoolah gets severely depressed by being where his mother worked, and at one point Samovar flits over and sits on his shoulder and rubs up against his neck to comfort him. This leads Samovar to discover how soft and warm Zeemahoolah’s fur is, which leads Samovar later that day, after supper when it’s time to go to bed, to suggest: I hope you won’t think I’m being forward or anything, Zeemahoolah, but today in the FixIt Shop when I landed on your shoulder and rubbed up against your neck, it felt so good, that I was wondering, I was wondering, I was wondering, if I could roost there on your shoulder tonight. It’s warm there. Of course Zeemahoolah agrees. And from that night onward the two of them always sleep together in Zeemahoolah’s bed, Samovar tucked up against Zeemahoolah’s neck and burrowed down in Zeemahoolah’s warm, soft fur.

I had no idea that would happen. It’s little things like that that are such surprises and grow out of the characters themselves, acting on their own, with no help from me and completely outside any outline I might have for them, that makes telling stories so wonderful.

I sure hope next week goes as well as this past week has.

More next week.

Sincerely, David Budbill