Today is a wonderful, memorable day for me because I finally finished my first draft of my novel, which I started in early April. So in the past seven months, I keep writing it every day, one to two hours a day at most, most of the time just twenty minutes, and so only from a few sentences to one to two paragraphs a day. Yeah, there still some days I wrote nothing. There is a day I wrote almost entire day and two to three pages of my sketchbook–it’s August 8. On that day, a big typhoon hit Taiwan and later all of us used dirty water for three to four days. I kept switching between my laptop (with my translation going on) and my sketchbook (with my story going on), and outside my apartment the wind blew so hard and the rain was so heavy. Keeping busy helps to calm yourself down.
I started the story after I read Julia Cameron’s book “The Right to Write." The idea is actually something I thought about long time ago: a giant library and the people working there. I think it will be cool to make it more like a sci-fi/1984/dystopia stuff, but there is already something like that. A good example is Scarlett Johansson and Ewan Mcgregor’s movie “The Island." (A group of clones who don’t know their real identities and their ultimate fate) Another is Amanda Seyfried and Justin Timberlake’s movie “In Time." (In this movie, time is money.)
So later, with the library and school setting, it becomes mostly a love story. This idea about the love stories of librarians (it’s not the TV series) comes from a thought after reading Jorge Luis Borges’s short story “Library of Babel." When the narrator keeps talking about his eccentric library, people who are so crazy about knowledge in the books, symmetry, orders, God, I can’t help thinking: how do they end up being like that? Don’t they maybe forgo something in their lives–love, family–and then become just live for knowledge and books?
But, indeed, in the end, I still didn’t develop the story in this way. It’s a story of two teenagers who are trained to be librarians, their experience of love, career choice, meeting long lost parents. I really hope it can be in English, but I am not a native speaker, so I choose not to be rejoiced in my Asian English writing. But with those foreign names, it did look like some novel being translated in Chinese.
During the past few months, almost every part of the novel has been written in my room. Only a very small part was written in convenience store, and once at Dante Coffee, a local coffee chain when you don’t have money for Starbucks. Actually I did try to go to Starbucks, but I couldn’t write there. My brain or mind just went “blank." It’s hard for me to get focused there.
Most of the story was written in the company of music–yeah, a very romantic way of writing, but in the recent one to two months, the story was written in silence or just soft piano music because sometimes I wrote in the very early morning. I think writing in a total silence is also a good way to write. That’s what I’ve learned in the recent weeks. But in the past few months, some music did help me write:
“The Imitation Game" movie soundtrack: The opening theme is really captivative. It really helps you imagine what could be the possible story to go with it.
Hybrid, “Cinematic Soundscape": when I want to have more clear sense about that giant library, I will listen to this album. I really hope next time (ie., in the next round of revision) I can write more about the library, making it more tangible.
Lykke Li, “I Never Learn": Nice album, I wrote about it earlier. It’s a good company when you want to write about how one feels about of the loss of love.
Passenger, “Whispers II": If you want to be hopeful and positive about life/future, this album really has that atmosphere.
“When Marnie Was There" movie soundtrack: Although it’s a story about two girls, the music is actually very romantic. It’s really help me to create a love story.
Yeah, this article is just to record how I feel about writing this long story. I have never written such a long story or in such a long time. There was a guy I once admired and he wrote a novel about 100,000 words in Chinese. I have always been curious about how that would feel, and I thought I could never write that long. This time, I may not write as long as that, but I am glad I can get the feel from writing this long story. A lot of time I wanted to stop, I felt this was not possible, I didn’t know what’s next, I felt I couldn’t write about things I have no experiences. When days didn’t go well, when you were troubled by other things, I felt bad things might happen if I insist finishing it. Well so far, nothing bad happens. It’s hard to say writing such a long story will bring me anything–yeah, my eyesight gets poor…I still need to work….but I rather think it already gave me something in return. Let me hope so.