while keeping one eye on the road

This post is another of those annoying entries written for myself so I can look back and track the progress of my current work-in-progress. So you can stop reading now if you like; I won't be offended.

The Hanging Man, previously titled Circus in the Dust, the sequel to The Transcendental Detective, now has four chapters of first draft. That's pretty good. I've been drafting it since May 9 and I've written about 26,000 words. I think. The word count is iffy because all but the first chapter exists only in the form of my longhand MS. I really need to sit down and type the damned thing up soon in case I lose my handwritten version, which would be a tragedy for me and likely I wouldn't even attempt to reconstruct the novel. I'd just write something else. There are plenty of other things to write.

The writing is going well, I think. As I said to my friend Michelle D. Argyle last week, "it seems to be working so far." For those of you who've never written a novel, putting together a first draft can sometimes seem like the act of assembling a car piece-by-piece while simultaneously driving it at high speed down a twisting mountain road. It's exciting and nerve-wracking and fun and you really can't see what you're doing because you have to work the ratchet driver while keeping one eye on the road and feeling around behind you for the next bit of car you want to bolt into place. Fun, as I say. I much prefer revisions. Revisions are a civilized pursuit. First drafts are for crazy people.

There was something else, but I can't remember what it was. Aristotle? Poe? Baudelaire? Kierkegaard at Large? No, it's gone. Oh, maybe it was a brief description of the book: Patience Quince, Algerian police detective traveling through America in 1935, is present at the discovery of the body of an unknown well-dressed man found hanging by the neck in the county equipment shed at Wilburton, Kansas. Patience is temporarily stranded in Wilburton, and cheerfully offers herself in a professional capacity to Sheriff Jack Hawke, who does not want her assistance with the investigation into the death of the hanging man. Et cetera et cetera including dust storms, a circus, telegraph operators, German immigrants and an unread letter, not to mention a very bad painting of a landscape and an immense wooden trunk bound in brass. When you pick up this novel and give it a shake, it will rattle with quite a lot of noise, I promise you.

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