Sunday, September 28, 2014

Mediocrity and melancholy

There comes a moment for a writer when the first draft of a manuscript is so close to completion that it is possible to look back and wonder why on earth one has permitted oneself the indulgence of pouring out such a wodge of unmitigated mediocre crap.

In the case of my current project, Chance of Reign, the outpouring amounts to around 430 pages, no less than 160,000 words. The writing has filled my days of radical underemployment for the past twelvemonth most enjoyably. I have taken time to follow my protagonists through just three months of a year which was for both the British and for the Germans uniquely perplexing... 1936... my narrative closing with the opening of the Olympic Games in Berlin.

Is it now time for radical editing... the excision of all the meanders which do not move the plot forward? But my intention has been to immerse the reader in various realities of that year. These realities, as confronted by my characters, are only peripherally the big issues of the day. I devote much attention to the marginalia, the everyday. I allow Matthew to drool over a Mercedes-Benz 540 K and convey, I hope, his passion for motor sport. I permit young Ulrike to experiment with the incongruous sexual freedoms which flourished even in a time of generalized repression. There are excursions into the realms of fashion, design, architecture and film making. The needed research has been a joy to undertake... I keep stumbling across new material which fascinates me. I fear that an edit could result even in a text longer than it is now!

Okay, this moment of depressing doubt will pass. But the gloomy tenor of my thinking is reinforced when my daily late afternoon outing takes me for a beer and espresso to EiscafĂ© Venezia, which has since April and the closure of CafĂ© Schwabing become my regular haunt. On Tuesday the ice cream parlour will close, the 2014 season over. The wonderful Italian staff will return to their homes on the other side of the Alps and the premises will then become a shop selling traditional Christmas bakery and then in the New Year a retail outlet for merchandise related to the Carnival season. These are transitions which takes place every year, but they give rise nevertheless to a feeling of melancholy, of loss.

Yes, in the spring of 2015 Venezia will re-open and welcome customers back to the tables in the sun we hope to see again. By then I may once again drink my early evening beer at the establishment across the street, to re-open as Brasserie Schwabing. Or not.

By then I may even have decided that Chance of Reign... however edited... is not really that bad at all!

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