“We’re heading to Rouyn, gonna pick up some two-fours and head back to AJ’s for a party,” Danny said. He exhaled a long puff of grey-white smoke mixed with the condensation of his breath.
“Seriously?” Adam adjusted the velcro belt on the wrist of his glove, pulling it back and pressing it down again in an awkward rhythm. “I got plans with Penny tonight.”
“Yeah, your plans include bringing her to AJ’s.” Danny jerked his chin and then glanced at the other guys, grinning.
Do you ever find, fellow writers, that composing a story is like carving a sculpture out of a block of wood? Each word is a sliver or a curl shaved away from the whole, adding to the shape a little at a time. I’d like to use the analogy of stitches sewn into a stretched cloth, or maybe woven over and under the strands in a loom; I try to visualize a brush moving over a palette, with a picture slowly growing under a collection of strokes and dots of colour on canvas. But writing feels more like carving to me. Chipping the words out of blank space, marking them on a flat page which, virtual or tangible, has no real dimension, yet in my head and under my fingers those phrases and conversations feel as corporeal as the solid medium in an artist’s studio. The story is solid and whole, but it’s hiding behind the surface of the solid. When I type, I’m just revealing its form. The frustrating part is when the tools are dull or the surface knotted and the words won’t come.
And sometimes, in some stories, the block I’m chipping away at isn’t even wood at all — it’s marble, and each burst of composition is a scattering of chips in the air. Maybe that’s more in my poetry than in my prose. Poetry suits marble.
At any rate, this novella (not sure if it’s YA, based on the language it wants to have) on snowmobiling wants to take shape. It’s waiting for its image to come out of the block of wood, a chip and a scrape and a curl at a time.
Maybe I should sit down and make a more direct plan of attack. I’ve been trying to seat-of-the-pants it, but without regularly spending time on it (sickness, work, life, etc.), there’s no movement. Do sculptors ever find themselves stuck in the movement? Is it terribly pretentious of me to compare writing (my writing) to the work of a sculptor?
“Honestly, I don’t think she’ll want to go,” Adam said. The noise of the velcro on his gloves was hard to hear against the growling of the engines. He abruptly stopped playing with the straps and took off his helmet to mess around with the padding, pretending to fix the way it sat on his head. “Kind of off parties right now, you know?”
Steve laughed, swaggering over to bush half-covered in snow with his gloves held under one arm so he could unzip his suit. “What, you afraid she’s gonna check out the competition, see somebody better, and ditch your ass? Bro, just bring her to the party. Don’t be a pussy.” The thin yellow stream steamed and crackled in the hollow it made under the bush. “Shit, I think I might have gotten piss on my boots again . . .”
Danny neatly tossed his cigarette butt in the snow at his feet. “Listen, bring her or don’t bring her, but you’re coming out. You need to relax, buddy. Way too tense. Am I right, AJ?”
AJ shrugged, his face still obscured by the mirrored visor of his helmet. He revved his engine, turning to the east, then took off suddenly, leaving an impressive spray of white powder in his wake.
“Whoa, nice boondockin'” Steve shouted, waving one arm. He zipped up and strode back to his machine, looking at Danny as he straddled the seat. “Let’s go, we’re wasting daylight. If he wants to wimp out, let him.”
Adam felt a hot glow deep in his chest, watching Steve slam his visor down and zoom off without another word. Why can’t I just tell them I haven’t got enough gas?”
“So you coming or not?” Danny asked. He checked to make sure his pocket flap was down over his cigarettes and lighter. “We can carry more booze with four machines.”
“Yeah, I’ll be right behind you,” Adam said, slowly. “I thought I heard a knock in the engine. Need to check it out first.”
“Hey, want me to stay and give you a hand?”
At least the kid actually sounded concerned. Adam took his gloves off, using them to make a flipping motion at his friend. “No, I got this. Like I said, I’ll catch up. See you in Rouyn, okay?”
“Okay. And remember what I said — bring Penny tonight!”
There was that look again, damnit. Danny was gone before Adam could ask him what the raised eyebrow and crooked grin was all about.
Okay, I think that’s enough for tonight. Know what sucks the most about being a teacher and a mom and a partner and a writer all at the same time? More often than not, you have to stop once the story gets really rolling. And the story tends to only get rolling when it’s quiet enough to concentrate, which for me is late at night. Still, it’s got momentum. I have to stop or else getting up for Bridget’s skating lesson tomorrow is going to be murder, and it’s already been a hell of a week in a lot of ways. Plus there’s skiing tomorrow afternoon — not sure how much I’m going to be up for that. I might bring my computer and/or marking to the lodge, let the kids have the fun while I nurse my sore nose and dwindling congestion, listening for more sledding slang and plot ideas . . .