The Grindstone

The Grindstone

January 1st

The view out one’s own window is often inspiring!

Dear Diary,
All of the prep work I did at the end of last year has paid off handsomely! My plan for today is to jump right into my new project, to which I have given the working title of Hedgerow. This will put me in the mindset of a gardener, tending to delicate sprouts, always mindful of the bounty to come. Hello, Hedgerow!

Also, the house next door has finally been occupied. After all the investigators and forensics teams, I feared that blackout curtains would become a permanent decorative feature in my writing room to hide me from the endless rounds of reporters. Thankfully, things quieted down soon enough, which was good, since I had no idea what any of them was talking about!

Spirit Animal: A featherless baby bird!

January 2nd

Dear Diary,
I put in another simply inspired day of writing today. I have written scenes 4 all the way through 7! At this pace, I can confidently say that Hedgerow will be finished in record time! Since scenes 1 and 3 paved the way for the reader to follow the mystical ritual in scene 4, I had more time to devote to developing the protagonist’s inner conflict with Secondary Character F2!

On a side note, Dear Diary, I watched all day as movers brought in and unpacked the many splendid belongings of my new neighbor, at least until they hung the curtains, which were quite as impenetrable as my own blackout curtains. Very mysterious!

Spirit Animal: A kitten, with a tiny belly you just want to rub!

January 3rd

Dear Diary,
Oh my gosh! I’m having a hard time writing in you, Dearest Diary!

Where to begin? Where to possibly begin!

I must put down my pen and fan myself!

Spirit Animal: Oh my gosh!

January 7th

Dear Diary,

Calm has been restored. All can now be explained.

Yes, that Eustace Sinclair.

I open with a confession, Dear Diary. My progress on Hedgerow has been disrupted. In the last four days, I have written only scene 8. That puts me 3 days behind my optimal completion date. But you will excuse my lapse when you hear what I have to say about my new neighbor.
Just two words: Eustace Sinclair.

I know! Must stay calm!
What are the chances that the most famous writer of grimdark dystopian romance would move in right next to me! The dark curtains have been swept aside on his writing room, which is just opposite my own! Together we sit, each in our own cocoon of the imagination, and I stare at him, motionless, as he taps out page after page.

Spirit Animal: A brightly colored Amazonian treefrog, with very large eyes.

January 10th

Dear Diary,
Hedgerow has rumbled back into life, and the careful plan I have put into place can still be salvaged! With unshakable focus, I have hammered out scenes 9 and 10. I think that the early friendship between Protagonist 1 and Secondary Character F1, developed with such clarity in scene 9 is more poignant than I’d accounted for. The inevitable betrayal, in scene 97, will hit harder, that way, I think.

Eustace Sinclair was not about today, as he was at a book signing in town, promoting a new edition of his earlier works. Take a note, won’t you, Dear Diary, that I myself need to up my publication efforts, rather than simply concentrate on new material. Clearly, it works for Eustace Sinclair!

Spirit Animal: A moth. Dull, gray, and perfectly hidden by its surroundings.

January 14th

Dear Diary,
Worked on Hedgerow through my early writing time without a hitch. Secondary Characters F2 and F3 are developing into interesting people, and I wonder if I should use that to strengthen Sub-Conflict 3, or keep it more subtle, and play to Theme A, or even Subtheme C. What to do?

Perhaps the way to work this out is to go over and introduce myself to Eustace Sinclair. He has lived beside me for a number of days, now, and my not introducing myself will soon appear to have a subtext to it, especially as I, too, am a writer. But developing a professional relationship would doubtless take more time than I have to resolve this, as Protagonist 1 is due to bind her soul to Secondary Character M3 in just three scenes. My revised schedule says that would only give me two days to win Eustace Sinclair’s professional respect, and this seems more ambitious than realistic. I will sleep on it, Dear Diary!

Spirit Animal: A potted plant.

January 30th

Dear Neglected Diary,
If it hasn’t been obvious, I have been diligently working on Hedgerow these past weeks. Every day I arise a dawn, make a nice cup of tea, and settle in to write. And who should be joining me, across two window panes and a few yards of empty space? Eustace Sinclair, of course! Our writing schedules are very much alike, which is invigorating.
Hedgerow has marched ahead diligently. I have regained my place in the plan, and have completed every scene through 63.

A fellow admirer of Eustace Sinclair, seen from a distance.

In this same time, Eustace Sinclair has hammered out what appears to be an entire novel, and of late he has taken to reading the printed out pages, nodding in satisfaction, the red pencil forgotten behind one handsome ear. The only interruption to his writing and editing that I have witnessed was the unexpected arrival yesterday of a beautiful young woman that I can safely assume is a romantic interest. Eustace was quite beside himself, abandoning his work at once, and leaving his writing room to sit empty as he entertained her in the vast salon below. I drew my blackout curtains rather than watch them talk and laugh over coffee and cakes, and later still over what was probably sherry, or perhaps brandy.

Spirit Animal: Tortoise.

February 7th

Dear Diary,
With gritted teeth I have worked my way through scene 74, wherein Protagonist 1 declares her love for Secondary Character M1. But the wording was off. I knew that the Protagonist needed to inadvertently reveal her knowledge of the Broken Chain, and thus drive Secondary Character F4 into her rage in scene 75. But having planned every last detail, I still struggled for the specifics of how she would actually say what needed to be said. Plot Points 34, 35, and 36 weren’t going to introduce themselves, now were they, Dear Diary?

For inspiration, I have drawn upon the occasional glimpse of Eustace Sinclair, who has been writing, editing, and actively wooing this entire time. It’s all very energizing!

Spirit Animal: An entire herd of American Bison. Unstoppable!

February 23rd

Dear Diary,
How can one plan out every aspect of a scene, and still have it come out sort of tilty? This is what forced me to scrap my recent attempts at scene 81. I have tried time and again, but it always comes off strained, somehow. Somewhat forced. As if the plot is advancing on rails. As if I hadn’t spent the last 21 scenes carefully putting every last element into its proper place! I am beginning to suspect that what is needed is an injection of visual language. Perhaps a simile or two might shake things up!

There are limits to what a dedicated writer can ignore.

One thing that may be weighing on my is the parties next door. My late night writing times, Dear Diary, have been less than productive, accompanied as they are by raucous gatherings next door. My annoyance has put a damper on the thrill of seeing authors I love walking from room to room next door, while live music plays, the salon is filled with people dancing the Charleston, and bright klieg lights pierce the night sky.

Spirit Animal: A minnow.

March 2nd

Dear Diary,
The tail end of our mutual early writing time was snipped off by the arrival of a number of gentlemen to the front doorstep of Eustace Sinclair’s home. It was the knocking that disturbed us both, as we were similarly engrossed in putting words to page, I on Hedgerow, and Eustace on his mysterious unknown manuscript. But we both lifted our heads at the sound, and he rose, trotting down to the front door, to admit three men, who carried with them a large presentation board. On this board, in his living room, there was a giant mockup of the cover of Eustace Sinclair’s newest book. Right there in front of me, only one house over, and one floor down. The art was suitably dark and moody, the title, Iron Dust, picked out in metallic foil. The font looked custom, but who can say? Could I ever get a custom font made for one of my book covers?

Spirit Animal: A crustacean of some sort, struggling to begin a long-awaited molt.

March 8th

Dear Diary,
I have rounded the bend, and Hedgerow is closing in on the prize of completion! Though only at scene 112, the Knight of Rubies has arrived at last, as the prophesy foretold, and the outline instructed. It was very moving and exciting, and the death of Sub Character M5 was more touching than I had envisioned. I deviated from the outline a bit, here, as M5 deserved better than being randomly trampled.

And I am not the only one basking in success, as Eustace Sinclair has taken to reading his manuscript for Iron Dust to his young love, and, though I cannot near the words, I see him flipping the pages of him manuscript as he reads, and see her adoring gaze. I wonder if my own readers will one day look upon me with similar regard? I have taken to mapping out how long Eustace writes, or edits, or works the phone, on the presumption that he is doing some sort of marketing. I have noticed his habits, in this regard, are quite developed, and he rarely deviates. A wise course, and one I’d be wiser to follow!

Spirit Animal: An owl, of some sort. Too cliché?

March 18th

Dear Diary,
I’m not sure if I’m writing early or late. I rarely sleep a full night, and get up whenever. The parties next door are getting to be too much, and I fall asleep during the day when the need overtakes me. Still, buoyed by my planning, I have succeeded in writing scene 121, though 120 is admittedly more of a sketch, and 119 is borderline incoherent. I know what must occur in them, even if I cannot be sure my actual prose has gotten the job done.

I am feeling as exhausted, of late, as the young woman Eustace increasingly dotes upon, next door, as the parties continue night after night. During late-night tea-making I sometimes see her alone, in the warming night air, as the party inside goes on without her.

Spirit Animal: Any animal that sleeps with only half their brain at a time.

April 2nd

Dear Diary,
I’m done with Hedgerow!
April fools! See what I did there? Because it’s the 2nd? The 1st would have been predictable!

Spirit Animal: The boy who cried wolf. Not the wolf itself, though.

April 9th

Dear Diary,
Hedgerow is complete! All 142 scenes! Really!

The theme and all three sub-themes are established. All 79 plot points have been crossed, and and I must give proper credit to the work habits of Eustace Sinclair, which I have emulated these past weeks. Now that this first draft is complete, I shall begin editing at once, and turning half my remaining time toward marketing. Deviating with my writing mentor, I have refrained from initiating parties at my home. Perhaps now that I have more time, I’ll pop over to Eustace’s house, and make long-delayed introductions. I must remember to not gush, nor mention the minute-by-minute log of his activities I accumulated in March.

Apropos of nothing, this is a daisy.

If I do decide to go over, I will bake a zucchini bread. Zucchini bread is good for hangovers, I hear. Considering the events of last night, I think I might be wise to bring two loaves. I won’t mention that I had seen his party fall silent, nor how he’d raised his champagne to give a toast. And I certainly won’t say anything about how, when he sank to one knee in the center of the crowd, and took the hand of his love in his own, I was watching, as I was when he presented a ring quite glittery enough to be seen from my house. Nor would it be prudent to mention that I was observing when she demurred, shaking her head gently, and rushing quickly away into the night. And my seeing the shocked partygoers drift off, the klieg lights be extinguished, and Eustance Sinclair stumbling upstairs, weeping, to lay, fully clothed within his bathtub, will go similarly undisclosed.

I think I’ll keep the conversation to our mutual love of writing!

Spirit Animal: A mighty Sequoia!

April 10th

Dear Diary,
I shall have to find a suitable use for all this zucchini bread, for, when I finally went over to introduce myself to Eustace Sinclair, I was informed by the men packing the house that he’d decided to move to Fiji. I hope that this new location agrees with him, Dear Diary, but really, did it matter? He was a massive success, and could write from anywhere in the world. His life was like a dream, Dear Diary, and I shall strive to emulate him. I shall invite my writing group over, and we shall all drink tea, eat zuchini bread, talk about our manuscripts, and maybe even dance the Charleston.

Spirit Animal: Eustace Sinclair!

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