Serpent Blog

My Little World... 
There is so much I donít know that it astounds me. My lack of knowledge is as vast as the stars and the universe and when I look at Serpent Box sometimes I get the feeling that Iím staring into a night sky. Steinbeck had East of Eden mapped out pretty well in his head. He knew what he had to do. He knew how to control tempo and manipulate the readerís emotions. I suppose this comes with experience, but I wish I knew more about what I wanted to happen next in my little world.. And it is that, my world. My place...

A Serpentís Journal
Excerpts, February 8-11, 2002
South Park Cafť, San Francisco


I have taken a big detour with this chapter in the cave and I canít help thinking that it will get cut. I think about this a lot now Ė about what will be cut out Ė and it depresses me because I put so much into every little sentence. But this is really the part I love most about this, the construction elements of building and shuffling and rewording and reading aloud and tweaking and polishing and then letting it sit for awhile like a bowl full of yeast feeding on sugar-water and then coming back to it yet again until it is just right. This is the real writing I think, the work after the original thought. Crafting the thought. If I have any talent, this is where it lies, in this part of the process. Give me the raw materials for a story and I can build a good one. Please tell me that one day I can work with you on a story, just one is all I ask, a gem of a short story, a miracle of a piece. Lord how I yearn to work on a short again. I hope that what I am going through now will help me and make me a better short story writer. This novel business is not for a manic, impatient writer like me.

. . .

It is a fine morning. Skies are blue with only the long wispy clouds that mean good weather to come. It is bright, so bright that one is forced to wince and hold a hand to the brow in order to see. I did not finish chapter 31 yesterday. Perhaps I got too cocky. Iím having some problems with Magdalena because I still donít know her yet and Iím having problems within the confines of the cave. Logistically, I have three people down there and I have to get two of them into a small chamber where there are snakes who are down here near a hot-spring keeping warm. I had thought that this might be the easiest kind of writing because outside [the outdoors] is my element. Once Iím in the natural world, I am at home, but Georgia is not my home and I wish to God I could have spent a few days in the woods there before tackling this book. I want to know the trees and the topography. I want to feel the quality of the air. Maybe my next novel can take place in California, or upstate New York which are the two worlds I feel I know better than any, including my own inner landscape.

It occurred to me that I am wring this for many reasons, some of them hidden to me. I of course want to tune up before working, and I want to summarize my thoughts, thus distilling them. Also, I think I am trying to convince myself that I am sane. And there are other things going on here too. Will I ever read this once I am done? Will anyone else? Who knows. But I know one thing, Steinbeck helped me with his letters to Covici, and perhaps one day I can help someone too. This has become part of the process now. I hesitate to stop for fear of jinxing the work.

Okay, now Iíll work. I am in a different cafť, one much quieter Ė though quite a distance from home. And they make the best coffee here. It is dangerous, for I will drink too much coffee.

. . .

If this thing ever gets done itíll be a miracle straight from God himself. This book has no business being completed, with my life the way it is, all odds are against it and I suppose this is why I persevere. I am stubborn like you would not believe. I simply will not give up. But I will give up this ridiculous tirade. I must finish 31 today. I must. I have milked it far too long. I have milked this book far too long, I must make better progress and work harder. The problem is I am not reading anymore. I need to be reading and Iím spending all my time reading Steinbeck's journal and the bible and Hemingwayís politically incorrect hunting journal. None of this inspires. The bible a bit. The Steinbeck a bit but I need more. Man this is turning into a rant but I must need to rant. God how I wish I had a real friend Andrew. Okay Iím done. I hope you donít even read this one, I have nothing to say today, not here, perhaps it will all come out through my fingers.


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