Roman Sturgis Take care of each other and make good decisions.

August 16, 2009

Writing Fiction

Filed under: Blog — Roman @ 3:29 pm

First an update. Then some thoughts on my progress as a fiction writer.

I put in my two weeks notice on Friday. My last day will be at the end of the month. Exactly two months at High Hammock, from which point I went from dish pit to garde mange.

Why did I put in my notice?

My schedule was the exact opposite of Laura’s. In two weeks, we’d seen each other for mere hours. Ships passing in the night. I’d come home at 12 or 1 and she’d be asleep. I would still be amped up from work, so I’d hang out until I could fall asleep around 3am. She’d get up at 5:00 to go to work. I’d get up at noon. Then she’d come home at 7, but I’d already be on my way to work at 6. Just terrible.

I’ll be going back to Litchfield Books. (My former employers called me up last week and made me an offer to come back, which precipitated the notice at High Hammock.) I’m happy about it. The hours will be less there (though compatible with seeing me wife), the pay will be similar, and the greatest independent bookstore on the Grand Strand has a very kind policy of allowing their employees to read behind the desk if there’s nothing else to be done. That was hugely significant while I was working there before BU and taking classes at Coastal. I did all of my class reading on the clock. And that will be the same again, as I prepare for classes at Tech. (That happens next week!)

There may also be an opportunity to work with a local HVAC repair company part time. I’ll find out more on Monday. Cross your fingers.

So about the writing… It’s the question I get asked a lot by close friends and family. It’s almost an extension of “how are you?” As in, “How are you? How’s the writing?” Why wouldn’t they want to know? It’s what I have spent the past several years telling people I want to do. After Laura, it’s probably the most significant part of my identity. Married to Laura. Writer. Soon to be, HVAC student.

The writing is terrible. But crucially, I know that it’s terrible, where as a few years ago, I might think that what I was doing was pretty good. I feel very much in phase III of becoming a successful writer. Phase I = in love with writing. Phase II = pursuit of a discipline to write often. Phase III = recognition that after all the time you spent developing, your work has twice as much “room to improve” as you thought it did. Don’t ask me about Phase IV yet. I have a sinking feeling Phase III lasts forever.

Recording the latest installment of Home and Garden has clarified this for me. Also, I’ve been revising a story about cooking in a restaurant that I started way back in 2003. This story has been rewritten three times and revised more times that I can remember. It’s almost done, but it’s lacking spark, still. Though, technically, I think it might be the best thing I’ve ever written. I’ll put it up here when it’s finished.

In the meantime, I’ve started a new story, tentatively titled “Other People’s Children.” I feel my voice developing in this first draft. The music, for lack of a better word, sounds more pleasant. Often I think my voice is a drone. A jack hammer. There is not that sense of making love to the words that you get when you read excellent writers like Jhumpa or Sedaris or lately, Niffenegger (The Time Traveler’s Wife). The other night, chef asked me if I’d read “The Corrections,” which I have not yet, sadly. But am resolved to, soon. As soon as I can dig it up. (I think it’s in the attic.)

So that’s what’s up with me.

Also, next weekend, Mike’s 30th in DC. And the family makes the trek back to Houston, leaving the condo empty again. Just Laura and me.

The summer is definitely coming to an end.

1 Comment »

  1. Roman,
    Just go on. As Anne Lamott says, “bird by bird.” I too am discovering phase
    III in my book about Jordan. I am in a writing class, and all are published writers
    except for me. The more I write, the more I realize how much work I have to do.
    But this is a good thing. Ultimately, it results in the writing being the best it can be. I also know what you mean about Jhumpa—I am reading Unaccustomed
    Earth now. I will miss it when I’m done. That is what we strive for—that the
    reader will want more. In my case, I’m a one book woman, but I am committed
    to getting it done and published. Keep on working—and striving. ‘Glad you and
    Laura will get to spend more time together soon. Keep in touch. Taffy

    Comment by Taffy Wagner — August 20, 2009 @ 5:54 pm

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