Week 87

Bit late this week, as I've had a few things to sort out. Specifically, moving to Greece for a few months. Turns out living in London for the next three months costs the same as flying to Athens, getting a coach to a remote part of Greece and renting a villa. So that's what I did. This was my view today:

View of the Messinian Gulf in Greece

I did it partly to avoid the distractions in London (biscuits, work, the internet), partly to stop indecision (can I come to drinks on Sunday? No, I'm in Greece.) and partly because of something I read in The Plot Whisperer:

Each time you write, you separate from your comfort zone, face ordeals, learn from them, and move forward.

Ye-esh.

I took that as meaning you need to confront your worst fears about writing. And mine is writing, which is a fairly big part of writing, actually putting pen to paper, getting what's in my head down on a page, finishing this book, or at least, starting a draft so it can be finished.

While it's in my head, or on my wall, it's perfect. The risk is that what ends up on paper will be in no way near as good. So I string it out instead, holding off the inevitable. Draft two might take as long as draft one, and draft three...

Normally at the formation of particularly drab sentence, or the thought of how many more such sentences lie ahead, I'd duck to my books for inspiration, go through my notes, or trot to the shop for a Twix, and get waylaid by some other thought, promise myself tomorrow would be better, and that was it. Gone. Contextualised. Leaving it all behind might force me to focus. That's the hope, anyway.

...and the decision was made totally worth it for my friend Cathy's response on Facebook:

Oh my god you are Geoff Dyer.

So far I've written a first draft of my novel, and gone back over it, unpicking it and putting it back together in a different order and with different emphases as a result.

It's now or never for the redraft. I'm writing it, start to finish, over the next three months. I hope by Christmas to have a full second draft I'm not entirely happy with, but one, unlike the first, where really I was just learning the ropes, I can start giving to people for some feedback. Otherwise known as, let's not get to Week 100 without a thing that looks even slightly like a book, yeah?

Wish me luck. I'll need it; turns out Greece has both biscuits (Caprices, no less) and, strapped to the side of my whitewashed villa and pointing its stiff little aerial up to the azure sky, the internet.

Word count this week: 0 Second draft: 0 First draft: 128,661

Literary pilgrimage

We had found it. We stood silently. I knew this moment from previous literary pilgrimages: you look and look and try to summon up feelings which don't exist. You try saying a mantra to yourself, 'D.H. Lawrence lived here.' You say, 'I am standing in the place he stood, seeing the things he saw...', but nothing changes, everything remains exactly the same: a road, a house with sky above it and the sea glinting in the distance.

- Geoff Dyer, Out of Sheer Rage, p.60