Saturday, August 14, 2010

My formations, and their undoing

Okay, so I’ve been working on my new book, The End of San Francisco, for a while now. Remember when I printed everything out, and it was 1200 pages? I’ve never written that much in my life, oh my! I didn’t call it a manuscript, I called it the material -- it was more or less everything I’d written over the last years, starting with the writing I did when I visited my father before he died. I need the basic structure that I wanted, so then I separated everything into thematic sections, some of them very tight, like the part about visiting my father, which was already more or less the way it would end up. Don’t get me wrong -- I’m still editing it, over and over, but it started out about 20 pages, and it’ll probably end that about that too. But then there were some sections that were 200 pages -- like the one about trying to regain a sense of hope in my own sexuality -- so, with that one, and some of the others, I kept editing and editing until it felt closer to what I want. I think that section’s about 40 pages now, and I’m still cutting.

I’ve done about four edits for each section, maybe three for the two sections I wrote at the end, when they knew exactly what I wanted, and so last week I thought okay, let me just put it all together, and see how long it is now. I was pretty sure it would still be way too long, but maybe it was time to call it the manuscript. So, I put it all together, and guess what? It was actually under 300 pages! I couldn’t believe it, really.

So now I have a manuscript. I just need to edit it another 10 times, and then it will be ready. I love editing, but the frustrating thing is that I can only go through about 10 or 20 pages per day -- less sometimes. It’s printed out single-spaced, so that each page is really two pages, so that helps my hands. But still, I’m always getting to the point where I’m excited and I can feel the arc and I’m slashing here and gasping there, and right then I realize it’s time, time to stop, because my arms chest shoulders wrists hands jaw feet are hurting, or something like that.

There’s one section that I was reading through again today, about going to The Cock in New York after visiting my father, and that section is pretty much everything I ever wanted to write about the possibilities of public sex. And the walls. And about New York, and what it was and never was, for me at least, and what is and will never be. This section is so gorgeous, and I love the way my run-on sentences just keep running, today I was adding periods here and they are for breath but still.

But oh no -- I think I need to edit that section out. It’s also about San Francisco, or getting ready to go back to San Francisco, but I don’t think it fits with the book as a whole -- too much about New York, maybe 30 pages in a row or something, and yes the book is about New York but in the way that it formed me and this is about something else. I mean, it is one of the best things I’ve written about the perils and potentials of public sex, but it’s too sprawling. And, since it’s about New York, it risks making it seem like when I’m talking about the end of San Francisco I’m just talking about San Francisco. When actually I’m talking about these queer dreams of escape and accountability and intimacy that builds into more dreams of collective political action of relationships that hold of emotion that creates space. I mean, it’s about my formations, and their undoing. So I think this particular part, which is called The Drill, will have to end up somewhere else. Or, at least that’s what I’m thinking now.


Dylan said...

I'd like to know where it ends up, The Drill; I'd like to read it. I'm interested in the end of metropolitan queer escape. When Eve K Sedgwick died, last year... only last year? When she died I'd only just become queer myself (late late late in life but also late in the life of gay-ness in general), and then she died, and I found this

citation from one of her books, and... oh, I don't know. I have a fervent, highly sentimental but not-therefore-dismissable attachment to public sex though I basically never have it. It's an ideal: metrosexual could mean, not 'kind-of-gay-fashion-sense' but the sex of the metropolis, with strangers and in public. I think it's vitally necessary though also vanishing.

Excuse the length of this. I wandered here because I saw the film Gina made with you (this summer, I saw it) and I started reading back & back and came upon this.

PS I loved the film.

mattilda bernstein sycamore said...

Dylan, thanks so much for writing! As for The Drill, it will be the first thing I work on once I'm done with The End of San Francisco -- I will definitely publish it somewhere...

That's a good point about "metrosexual" -- instead of a straight swallowing of gay aesthetic, a public sexuality -- vitally necessary, I agree so much...

And, I'm so glad you enjoyed the film!!!

Love --