Eileen R. Tabios / #EileenWritesNovel / April

April 2, 2016

Oh bother. And now to write the sex scene. Where'd that passion fruit cake go...

April 3, 2016

One writes what one reads and today I officially (perhaps officiously as well) upped my reading to supposedly better fiction. And in today’s read novel I came across a certain line whose effectiveness I kept considering—something about *the manner of beautiful women with small breasts* (paraphrased). I kept wondering whether that line works. I concluded it would work were it in a poem but didn’t work in the novel as the latter requires more context. I suspect it was used by the author as a nifty mysterious line that also manifests the author’s (not protagonist’s—and this difference is key) jaded sophistication. A note to self to be careful about making this mistake since I also dabble in poetry. Finally, may I present my eye...

April 5, 2016

Ugh, she thought. Will I have to learn the tango to retain today's writings? I write so as to keep my lazy butt on the chair...

April 6, 2016

When a character pops up unexpectedly demanding time on the page and disrupting the inherently fragile outline, it's a tad eerie...

April 8, 2016

Character: And I write a poem and you can insert it here...

Author: Well Fart and Crap — there goes my shot at a bestseller…

[P.S. … and author has a haircut]

April 9, 2016

Because #EileenWritesNovel I'm trying to elevate my reading (for years I've mostly read crap fiction for mental massage). Karin Fossum's BROKEN is excellent: fabulous presentation of the process of writing a novel *concurrent* with the unfolding of the novel itself. When writers freshen up form, they enhance the story. But it was also an antidote to a prize-winning novel I just read which was praised for its form. Form is not a rationale for weaker elements in the same way a good story cannot offset weak writing. I'll stop blathering now as I'm undoubtedly not saying anything new to my smart FB friends. I just wanted to praise this:

April 9, 2016

Edit! The matter of butt enhancement shall be irrelevant to this story!

April 11, 2016

I can go thick on a single poetry book (my longest at more than 500 pages is I Take Thee, English, For My Beloved (Marsh Hawk Press)). But this novel is different (of course) because there’s no shortcut to the benefits of scale or duration as unfolded through a single story (even the long poetry book might be a *collection* of individual poems and the book-length poem, in my experience, is more reliant on reader-response to flesh out significance). With this novel, as I hit page 129 (single-spaced, so that’s double if I double-space which I think is what prose peeps do) it’s marvelous how the story takes off from my initial outline: gaps are filled and/or fleshed out, requiring additional characters and concerns not previously anticipated. Often, I feel the story writing itself—a feeling familiar in poetry. Thank you, Universe, for this experience and growth. And now, I’m continuing with a section that’s requiring my Third Eye—I’ma on it!

April 13, 2016

Most (not all but most) novelists are strong—it takes strength to succeed at that long form. But all writers—successful or not—are also fragile. It’s partly because one can’t be a writer without inflicting self-doubt along the way. I’ve written three—released two—short story collections. Those collections were possible partly by taking stronger chapters from the failed novel attempts, then editing those chapters into stand-alone short stories. I also have released a “collection of novels” but these are very short novels (https://eileenrtabios.com/fiction/silk-egg-2/) . So, twenty years later, I begin (again) a new novel. So far, it’s working out. I’m talking about it publicly (i.e. FB) because I’m hoping that the idea of any failure being public will help with the fortitude of sticking at it. But because writers are fragile, some of you are reacting with envy. I’m not surprised. But, Dear Writer, this novel didn’t start because I woke up one day and decided to do it. This novel is possible because of 20 years of failure at it. When you’ve failed for 20 years and feel yourself tapped out, then you can resent me. The paradox is that if you allow yourself to fail at something for such a long time but keep trying (20 years), envy will be irrelevant. Don’t mind me. Just keep at your work. Okay: we good?

April 14, 2016

Most daily word count yet yesterday. But this only taught this Author two things: (1) (her) Poetry is poor training for dialogue, and (2) when attempting to write erotically, don't rely on physical acts that defy physics...

April 18, 2016

So that hurt. Going to New Orleans wreaked havoc on my Constraint of writing daily on the novel. While traveling, I emailed my “Daily Write"s to myself. But during the primary day of the poetry festival I could only make notes on what I’d ideally write that day. Today, I anxiously transcribed my emails and then fleshed out a Daily Write from my notes. *Anxiously* because I’m fearful that if I don’t hit that Daily Write I’ll lose steam. But I did it, and was about to cheerfully look for wine when I realized that I also still had to do today’s Daily Write! Exhausted, I told myself *One Paragraph*! (A Daily Write can be as brief as a paragraph or an entire notebook—as long as I write for that day.) I surely can do one paragraph! Reader, I did 18 paragraphs. I think that’s enough as I’m down to one eye…

April 19, 2016

Nota bene from a more rested Moi: The manuscript print-out has exceeded its first large binder clip.

April 20, 2016

Sometimes you fall in love with a phrase or statement and you want to integrate it into your writing. I did that with a sign on a balcony that I saw in New Orleans. But, nope: I tried but failed to make a home for it in the novel. And that's okay—can't force the issue. Especially given what the sign says:

April 22, 2016

In my prior ‪#‎EileenWritesNovel‬ post, I’d said I tried but failed to incorporate a phrase from a sign I saw hanging from a New Orleans balcony. I failed, but it irritated me that I failed. Why would I fail, I thought, if I’d done it hundreds of times in poetry, i.e. the constraint to incorporate in poems various texts chosen at random? So I tried again, and yes I this time I successfully wrote it into the novel! Take that, Word. “TCHOUPITOULAS IS MY SAFE WORD”—you just cakework to a poet!

April 25, 2016

Twice now, I wrote a character spouting off "Fuck You!" So much for high-brow aspirations. I need to stop this character from feeling like this expression on my face below—but then again, it is a political novel and that’s the same expression I take on when watching the current campaigns (both in the U.S. & the Philippines).

April 27, 2016

Story, for me, plays a larger role in fiction than poetry. So I knew to have some outline for the novel. But I wanted to balance it with being open to what surfaces through the writing process (my Poetry 101). That tension is wonderful when it delivers unexpected plot twists. But this week, it also seemed like it delivered the ending...which would be great as my outline had no clue as to how the novel would end. But it turns out that having been immersed in poetic *open endings* doesn't make me a good judge of what surfaced this week. It seems too good to be true that I now have an ending (boy, that'd be quick!). But it's a pretty good ending! More rumination ahead. Meanwhile, this type of uncertainty is new to me—but that newness is actually a gift.

Thank you, Universe.

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