I’m 80 pages from the end of Huck Finn, but Rachel keeps yelling at me, “Why do you need to finish the damn book to start writing!” I bought a new Moleskine yesterday. Expensive to be sure, but I found with Alice that it really is the best notebook for Bart-riding-writing: the right size and hard covers for support. This morning I bought a binder for all my notes already compiled. I printed all 35 photos of the hostel on a color printer. I spoke to two of my five actors on the phone, heard the voice of another from her voicemail message. I got ideas overflowing out of my ears. Yes, yes, yes. I guess it’s time . . . Linus clearly thinks so.
But (oh no no no, just start writing, you fool!): I know basically who four of the characters are. Finn and James are travel partners who were running from something when they landed at this hostel and were brought on. Widow Douglas is the most senior attendant at the hostel, possibly the owner, and Miss Watson is her relation of some sort. Widow Douglas is the down-to-earth one; Miss Watson is a bit of a zealot, and we’ll see what that means. But who is the third woman? The younger woman? I was thinking Tom Sawyer’s girl, Becky Thatcher. She has that wonderful history of having been lost in the caves for days: what kind of nightmares does she live with in her 20s because of that incident? But yesterday I discovered Emmeline Grangerford, who is a delicious character in the middle of Huck Finn. The deceased daughter of the feuding Grangerfords, she was an artist obsessed with death. She would paint haunting scenes and write poetry based on obituaries. BUT THEN I met red-headed Mary Jane Wilks, who is truly Huck’s first love: “You may say what you want to, but in my opinion she had more sand in her than any girl I ever see; in my opinion she was just full of sand. It sounds like flattery, but it ain’t no flattery. And when it comes to beauty—and goodness too—she lays over them all. I hain’t ever seen her since, but I reckon I’ve thought of her a many and a many a million times.”
Just pick one and be done with it! You have to start!
Possibly . . . or maybe I need to finish Huck Finn before I decide . . . Jim just got captured, and Huck just decided to go save him! How am I going to start writing with that on my mind!
(Sigh) Where is the line between preparation and procrastination?
87 pages and 102 minutes later: “There ain’t nothing more to write about, and I am rotten glad of it, because if I’d a knowned what a trouble it was to make a book I wouldn’t a tackled it and ain’t a-going to no more. But I reckon I got to light out for the Territory ahead of the rest, because Aunt Sally she’s going to adopt me and civilise me, and I can’t stand it. I been there before. Yours truly, Huck Finn.”