Any idea I had that finding the first eight chapters of an almost forgotten manuscript would make starting a new novel easier, is long gone. If anything, the process is more difficult. First, for the obvious reason, that I’m not the same author who wrote those chapters over twenty years ago, but, an even more profound point is, my writing style has totally changed through the years. In other words, though it’s nice to have those chapters, I’m rewriting practically every word.
That’s the way it goes. At my age I should know better than to look inside any horse’s mouth. That’s alright. I’ve loved the storyline for more than twenty years, now I’m excited I’m going to finish it.
I will continue to post my daily journals of the novel, though for the next few days, there won’t be a lot to say, beyond, today I rewrote chapter two, and tomorrow I’ll rewrite chapter three, etc. etc. However, as I glanced through Steinbeck’s journal of East of Eden, it was reassuring to note that he experienced a number of similar days. This entry, from March 23 (1951) caught my eye so I’ll share it with you:
“Still March 23, still Good Friday
I am only going to do one page today. Of course it will be more than the usual in typescript because there is a good deal of dialogue. But I have to go and get the boys now and buy Easter egg dyes and candies to make them sick. As a matter of fact you are coming over this afternoon. I’m not going to read any of this to you but you can look through it all you like. And at any time too. I know it is rough and will need lots of rewriting but I am never shy about it when a professional is doing the reading. But God save me from amateurs. They don’t know what they are reading but it is much more serious than that. The immediately start rewriting. I never knew this to fail. It is invariable. For that matter, I think I dislike amateurs in any field. They have the authority of ignorance and that is something you simply cannot combat. It is just about time for me to discontinue the work for today and I kind of don’t want to because some very exciting things are coming. Maybe I can do some tonight after everyone is gone and the house is quiet.
I find Steinbeck’s words both reassuring and confirming, two feeling I crave when I’m beginning a new work, or, as in this case, continuing a twenty plus year old work.