Sheesh, how long has it been since I wrote? Well, it doesn't matter, really, does it? I don't have a lot to say; or, rather, I have lots and lots to say about lots and lots of things but have to decide which thing gets to go first and the book has won every time. It even won out over writing about writing the book or complaining about this one secondary source is shockingly silly the more that I become familiar with the primary sources.
Anyway, the drug mule arrived, I was able to get back on my happy pills and within a week or two they started to work. Then, I was able to work rather than sit crumpled in a fetal position going over all of the ways I am am horrible, terrible, no good, and unworthy of the air that I breathe. Now, I can actually put together a thought, put the thought into words, and put the words on a page. Heck, I can even look at those words and thing, "damn! I'm good." I'm getting my groove back, and able to appreciate my coffee, write, workout, wine schedule. I'm having slightly fewer anxiety dreams and waking up fewer times during the night. We even went to see a castle where the tour took us across suspended bridges, around and around narrow spiraling stairs, and up to the very top of the keep and I did not experience paralyzing vertigo.
I confess that I had no idea what some of you all were talking about when you recommended that I see this year as an investment in my personal partnership with the Gentleman Caller. That made no sense to my understanding of relationships and marriages and romantic love and human interaction. My analyst and I used to talk about this. Very early I learned that human relationships, at best, are not worth the effort, so I never learned to put much effort into them. That's one of those Bad Ideas that I have to unlearn. Now that the chemicals are all flowing in the right way, I'm starting to understand what you all mean. I can't articulate it, but I can see the outlines.
I'm very far behind on where I had hoped to be in my manuscript. Fortunately, there are no more papers to write, and the past papers helped give me chunks of chapters. I might even be able to finish a chapter within the week. I started out the month systematically going through the secondary source that I love to hate, ferreting out the quotations and primary sources that I need to order from the archive behind the Iron Curtain (turns out it will be cheaper to order copies than to visit, and they don't let you take pictures of the documents anyway, which I would need to do because Germans had an entirely different script in the 19th century). I did the same from two other secondary sources that use the same set of documents and came to the conclusion that the smoking gun that these documents are supposed consist of a handful of passages from a handful of letters, all written within a context that makes the story that they tell highly suspect.
Then, I started to think about the story that I'm telling in the book up to the point at which I should be introducing the character, and how this character fits in with the rest of the Big Guy's life. Despite a whole book having been devoted to his relationship with this particular figure, I'm coming to the conclusion that she isn't that important and the only reason that I need to engage with her in any depth is because of that other damn book. Perhaps I'm being to glib. I mean, this character -- the German -- fits into the Big Guy's story in such a way that raises a lot of questions about him, his ambitions, and his behavior at home, but her story really doesn't pan out in a way that makes her important to his life in the way that some of the other women are. In realizing this, I realized that I had to dismiss her partly from the current chapter, and then entirely.
Yet, also in realizing this, I found that I could better articulate the point of the next chapter. Sadly, this makes the Big Guy look not as much the woman's rights man as his reputation would suggest. Not that he was a big ole misogynist. Not at all, just that I'm finding ways to make this part of his story more coherent, more complicated, and -- I hesitate to say "more feminist" because that seems to me to imply far more analysis about gender and so forth, which is not the direction this is going -- but certainly present a view of him that is more askew and from a female point of view.
Another thing that I realized, as this chapter started to shift with the removal of this figure, I hadn't flipped the point of view enough. I've describe the events that drive the narrative. I've drawn out some of the women who are important, but not necessarily central enough to move to the center stage as this woman -- the Englishwoman -- does. Yet, I had not really made the Englishwoman a full character. More accurately, I had not quite given her her due by explaining what she was getting out of the events of the chapter -- especially since those events cause her not a little unhappiness and make her out to be a "Jezebel" and a "Delilah." Always fun writing!
So, that's part of the task this week: fill her in. The other task is to turn to Mrs. Big Guy and tease out the tiny little glimpses of her that make her more than a projected stereotype and consider that she had slightly different ideas than her husband.