Posts in Fit Into Me
Returning to Fit (Day 3/90)

I haven’t thought about Fit for a little over a month now, but it seems way longer. It’s been a busy month, I guess. But that’s good(!), according to writer-me, who frequently tells students to have multiple projects in progress in order to get some space while letting drafts rest, and then to realize where the energy is (Project X or Y or Z, for instance) and consequently where it isn’t (maybe it’s time to finally scrap Project WTH once and for all?).

This morning, after a month away, I’m debating whether or not I want to continue with the day-by-day plan of The 90-Day Rewrite, which I was excited about on Day 1 and Day 2. If it’s been over a month though and I’ve abandoned it entirely, then either I’m kidding myself or maybe my 90 days need not be consecutive and I should just accept the fact that I’ll get to them when I get to them (hopefully with better results than these).

So, OK, I just read what Watt writes for Day 3, and he basically says stuff about how we can revisit and clarify moments that we know we need but for some reason just aren’t there yet. He suggests revising by adding a new or different perspective, an alternative or a variation, and seeing what comes of it.

Off the top of my head, I still haven’t figured out what to do with “pine torch” (which I started to worry about here and then began to figure out here). Wow, actually, I never would have realized “pine torch” was still a problem for me on my own today, and I know I wouldn’t have searched for or reread those old posts, which just reminded me (OMG, how much did I need to read these today?) that I am a really slow writer. (How could I have forgotten? Maybe because I’ve felt so guilty about not working on Fit at all for a month?) But anyway, yeah, FYI, slow writers are especially good candidates for having multiple projects in progress at once, so we can actually finish one once in a while, know what I mean? All right, if you made it this far into this post, let me at least leave you with these videos about (1) what we think we need to be doing and (2) just doing it your own way.

20 Lines Not Really About the Bal Masqué
  1. I’m sitting here nursing a glass of pinot noir, pretending to be a writer who enjoys a glass of something when they’re working. 

  2. But now I’m not really working.

  3. I’ve just spent over half an hour searching for images of heart-shaped fletchings on heart-tipped arrows, like for a Cupid costume—a good one, preferably, but a cheap Halloween one would do, too—which is the image I wanted for this post because tonight I’ve been working on the bal masqué scenes.

  4. What do you think—silk brocade?

  5. This morning I started Aaron Sorkin’s MasterClass, and I like that he immediately admits he’s better on paper because it makes his super-awkwardness less awkward. 

  6. I totally didn’t expect him to be at all awkward.

  7. I feel better about myself.

  8. A couple weeks ago after I finished all the seasons of GBBO, I needed something new to watch so started Dark Matter.

  9. I sent this clip from the groundhog day episode to all the people I know who might like the show.

  10. I love Android.

  11. God help me, for some reason after I finished that I started The Vampire Diaries.

  12. I’m on episode 30-something, having specifically chosen the show because it has 170-something episodes and I wouldn’t have to pick something else new anytime soon, but yeah, lol, what is this show even.

  13. I’m never going to get to 20 lines.

  14. I’m never going to finish this glass of wine.

  15. I can’t believe Reiny is still alive and seemingly happy and healthy and still jumping on the bed and running around and stuff.

  16. I mean, she’s really old, way older than Boo.

  17. Today J and I, full of ironic but real-enough angst and ennui, totally uninterested in our lifestyle blogger burglar-murderer novel, started a new story we actually like.

  18. It started out as a joke about how I’m a ghost that can’t shake vampires or zombies because they just keep coming, for years, decades even, but also there are boa constrictors, and a guy in a bison costume, and a cabin explosion. 

  19. We are winning at this writing thing.

  20. Cheers.

Ordering Fit (Day 2/90)

I’m not going to post updates every single day of my Moshfegh-inspired, Watt-oriented 90-Day Rewrite, but today, Day Two, I thought I’d share that I gave Day One a solid effort and ended up filling several pages in my journal. I short-answered the eleven questions about the coming week’s goals, and I filled in the blanks on the three-act template/outline provided by Watt. And I gotta admit, I understand this book and what I’m trying to say in it with newfound clarity.

As Watt predicts, my current draft already has a three-act structure (that I wasn’t, until now, thinking of as such) and, as he says to shush his naysayers, of course it need not be told in order (mine sure isn’t). But to be aware of the beginning, middle, and end of the story you’re telling about a character can at the very least help you better realize what they’re thinking and feeling in each of their scenes (which are, in my book, scattered and fragmented within essays. But for my 90 Days, I’m not worrying about the essays). These 90 days ahead are simply helping to structure my final pass, before sending to Ampersand to print-and-ship, and I’m focusing for now just on the fiction, on the tea house woman’s story, on making sure I’ve brought her to life as best I can. Because despite the fragmentation of her narrative, this book—the third of the series—marks a significant departure from my first two: it’s stark realism, there’s no magic in sight, and instead there is a decaying house, a shit-bottomed dying father who no longer recognizes her, a revolving door of unimpressive lovers doing too little to distract from the sadness of this or the stress of inheriting a failing family business our woman never wanted in a town unable to maintain and retain its young people.

In the current draft, we meet the tea house woman in bed with a young lover. The next time she appears, we’ve flashed back several days to an awkward confrontation with her ex. Next, she’s giving the eulogy at her father’s funeral (some time after hooking up with the young lover). Later that night, she’s drunk in a bar. In the morning, she makes breakfast for a new lover she’s picked up in the bar. And then she’s alone.

Obviously, there’s more to it than that, but those are the basic points along the way. Moving forward, here are a few of Watt’s questions for today, and my thought-answers after yesterday’s discoveries:

1. Does the reader understand clearly why this day is unlike any other? Not yet. But I have no problem adding that it’s New Year’s Day, her father’s dead, she’s in bed with his nurse, and she doesn’t want him to stay but she also doesn’t want him to go, because until today her house has been filled with friends, neighbors, and New Year’s Eve revelers (attending the masked ball she opted not to cancel so as to celebrate her father’s life and her family’s longstanding NYE bal masque tradition).

2. Does the reader understand the dilemma? Is it universally relatable? Not yet. But if the answers above provide the facts of the story, then the tea house woman’s feelings about these details will be what helps readers relate. And the specific dilemma—which exists currently but isn’t apparent—is that even though she isn’t interested in love or marriage or children, her first marriage well behind her and with enough problems of her own now let alone someone else’s, she wanted to at least send her father off with the belief that she wouldn’t die alone. His fear, not hers. But she wanted to relieve him of it. Do we live for ourselves or for our parents? Our own happiness or our family’s? I think that’s universal enough, no? Not to mention exes that won’t go away.

3. Is there crucial information that still needs to be revealed? Yes. Even though I’m not going to reorder my story to make it chronological, I can still make it much clearer where we are in the story. The morning we meet her in bed is New Year’s Day. On Christmas Eve, she went to her ex’s for dinner despite her reservations. That night, when she gets home, her father’s dead. She spends Christmas day waking and taking away from their own families the people in town who can attend to his body—reverend, undertaker, etc. These people encourage her to cancel the annual NYE ball, but she insists it’s tradition (tradition, the thorn in her paw from the moment we meet her in this book, v. previous). Dec 30, she eulogizes her father/goes to a bar/hooks up with an out-of-towner home for the holiday, makes her breakfast. That day, Dec 31, she’s fully absorbed with all the last-minute prep for the ball (she’s dressed as Catherine the Great), and during the dancing her father’s nurse finds her, sad and lonely himself, and in the morning he’s still in her bed. That night, in bed alone, her house is dark, empty, silent. Happy new year.

And a change I still have to make, which I’ve known for a while: the tea house woman is a quarter Asian (the other quarters are Russian, Hungarian, and French). The racial identity essay around this character edit also needs to be revised. I’ve never written Asian characters. Everyone I know has read my tea house woman as Asian all this time. I never thought she was Asian. People think I’m joking. In Different Racisms, adoptee-like-me Matthew Salesses writes about his own journey of not writing Asian characters, then writing biracial Asian characters, then finally writing Asian characters. I’m still working on figuring this out for myself. Maybe when I finish this book, I’ll be a little closer.

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