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Shoeism

Friends, enemies, lovers! I am here today to speak to you of a magical, marvellous place.

The Garment District in New York City.

Now, you may be wondering what the difference between the Garment District and the Fashion District might be. I am happy to answer. Delighted, to solve this mystery for you.

The Fashion District, Garment District and Garment Centre are all names for the same place in New York City. Prior to my visit there, I suspected that the Fashion District contained excellent shopping for things that have already been assembled, but no. I was wrong. These three are one and the same.

What is this place? Well, the Garment District is the blank canvas, the paints, and the charcoals. In other words, it holds the largest concentration of fabrics, notions and warehouses that cater to the fashion industry. Clothing designers go there to get their supplies.

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Gravedigger

I swing my legs, perched on a tree. I watch down below at those draped in black, breathing smoke deep in my lungs. I often come to watch. This particular tree is high, but I wouldn’t be worried even if it had been the smaller crab apple on the other side of the cemetery because no one looks slightly up when coming to pay respects. They look down, to the sky, or they look straight ahead, not noticing much of anything. There is nothing in between, unless you’re a child.

It is a child who notices me. Her father has died: train wreck. He was the conductor. Her large eyes fix on mine despite the distance. She doesn’t blink, doesn’t cry. She simply notices me and looks. Startled, I stare back at her, assessing her in that way we all do: small six year-old, velvet dress of dark purple, matching ribbon in her black hair. She is a pale child, but naturally so, not grief-stricken. Still, that doesn’t mean she is cold with no love for her father. Children that age don’t always understand exactly what it means when a parent dies. Some refuse to accept it for a prolonged period. Others cry silently because they understand that Something Bad has happened, if nothing else. Others still find unconventional ways of dealing with it. Like me.

I was nine. Both of them, two days apart. First went my mother, a graceful dancer who smelled of honeysuckle year-round. She fell off one of those tall library ladders. Landed on her neck. Instant death. Forty-eight hours later, my father. A volunteer fireman drowned while on duty. Accidents, accidents. Irony doesn’t help. Gone means gone.

It still feels unfair. I kept the dead flowers for too long and spoke few words for years. I’m often told that I’m solemn and quiet, but I don’t think of myself that way. There’s a very loud voice inside my head, and it keeps me company. Particularly at night.

The procession moves and the crowd swallows the girl. I kill the cigar on a knot in the tree, flick it to the ground and climb to a lower branch, swinging to a silent drop on the grass. Squinting at the sun and rolling up my sleeves, I ready myself for work. Still, I’m sure if I had been loud, no one would have looked at me.

No one notices a gravedigger, after all. We come when grief and love has left for good.

It’s flowing again! Woohoo!

Apparently, my brain needed a vacation.  I wrote three chapters, straight, and then couldn’t write a word for a week.  I’m not sure whether to trust myself, still, even at this point.  That makes the whole experience scary as well as exhilarating.

Still,  I am filled with words at the moment, words and oranges, and I must spew them out (the words, not the oranges), as fast as I humanly possibly can, before inspiration takes a hike again.

I wonder if it will always be like this for me.

Whether it will or not, I’m riding the wave, folks.  Riding the wave.

Like prostitution

Charming villains have always had a decided social advantage over well-meaning people who chew with their mouths open.
— Miss Manners

You must be proud, bold, pleasant, resolute,
And now and then stab, when occasion serves.
— Christopher Marlowe

Every writer I know has trouble writing.
— Joseph Heller

A professional writer is an amateur that didn’t quit.
— Richard Bach

Sit down and put down everything that comes into your head and then you’re a writer. But an author is one who can judge his own stuff’s worth, without pity, and destroy most of it.
— Sidonie Gabrielle

Write without pay until someone offers to pay.
— Mark Twain

A great book should leave you with many experiences, and slightly exhausted. You should live several lives while reading it.
— William Styron

Writing a book is an adventure. To begin with, it is a toy and an amusement; then it becomes a mistress, and then it becomes a master, and then a tyrant. The last phase is that just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster, and fling him out to the public.
— Winston Churchill

Writing is like prostitution. First you do it for love, and then for a few close friends, and then for money.
— Moliere

Don’t get it right, just get it written.
— James Thurber

Attack plan

I have now devised a plan of attack.

Right. Like I’m attacking my story. Allow me to rephrase:

I have now devised a plan.

(Of attack.)

You see, the more I go on, the more I realize how this story is meant to take shape, and the more I end up writing an embellished outline, on a chapter-by-chapter basis. I’ve expanded my book; it is now four parts (it consisted of three until a week ago), and each part has about 8 chapters so far.

It’s got the mathematical side of me extremely excited, you see, because I can now chart my progress, based on how I was doing before.

I’ll explain a little further. I have created a book progress chart, based on the time I have alloted to complete the book, and the number of chapters I have decided that I have. It’s all subject to change, naturally, but for the time being, this is how I’ve translated words into math:

The outline consists of 5% of the book.
Part one consists of 20%. It has 8 chapters.
Part two consists of 20% and has 9 chapters.
Part three consists of 20%. It has 8 chapters.
Part four consists of 15% of the book. It has 7 chapters.
Editing the whole enchilada consists of 20% of the effort with the book.

Note how much editing is required in book writing. A whole lot of editing, as it turns out. I’ve realized that I spend about 3/4 of my time editing, which is what takes me so long. I’m hoping that I’ll have edited as much as I can by the time August 28th comes around. In any case, here is a table of those notes:

Section – Percentage of whole
Outline – 5%
Part One – 15%
Edit Part – 15%
Part Two – 15%
Edit Part 2 – 5%
Part Three – 15%
Edit Part 3 – 5%
Part Four – 10%
Edit Part 4 – 5%
1st Draft – 10%
Final Draft – 10%

If you prefer graphical representation, the above translates to the following chart, based on my estimates over the next nine months. The little diamonds each represent a chapter, and I am currently on chapter seven.

Book Progress Chart

Lordy am I proud.

I’m also a little perturbed at the fact that I took the time to actually do all of that.

Routine

Write one thing at least, apply for one job at least. That’s the rule. My own rule.  It’s how I retain my sanity.

I think the universe has ways of making things happen or not happen for people, sometimes. And sometimes, rather than worry, it’s quite nice to let the universe do that, and just go on.

I might be a freelance fill-in-the-blank soon. Instability, varying income, stress, here I come!

I’m optimistic.

Note to self

When writing seems impossible and difficult for days that stretch on, just sit down and write.  The words will come to you, they will surprise you, and they won’t be half as bad as you think they will be.

It is always better to have something to edit.