Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Impasses and Turns of Phrase

As of now, the novel stands at 246 pages and 93,000 words. It is longer than my doctoral thesis will be, and gives me considerable hope that I will finish my thesis and have a job well before the start of what I call Continuance Fee Country, that arid, depressing wilderness many doctoral students find themselves in when their four years have finished, their university funding has been cut off, and they are still writing, now without any income whatsoever.

If I'm able to reach 246 pages of fiction in a year, I'll certainly be able to reach 200 pages of philosophy in eighteen months. Add six months for editing, and a further six months to a year in examination, and I'll have finished my degree fantastically on time. I hope there'll be enough publications and conference presentations as well to have a knockout resumé that can get me into whatever job opens itself up for me. I know a lot of people will say to a doctoral student that they should concentrate on their thesis and save their publications for later.

But I say take that advice and shove it, if you want to get yourself decent employment, instead of a further two to five (yes, five!) years living off your credit line on a diet of Mr Noodles and Spaghetti-Os earning slave-like per-course wages. As a professor, you have to be able to do multiple things at the same time, like teach, publish, administrate, and the various sub-duties attached. And if you don't learn how during your doctoral studies, then you never will.

However, the real point of this post was not to brag about how much work I can do without breaking down in a fetal position and crying like a schoolgirl at the end of term. It was really to ponder a slight hitch with the plot of my novel. The next scene is written up in my outline as follows. "SB and his pregnant partner SM return to St John's from Toronto to get married. 25-30 pages."

As yet, I have no idea how to fill out this scene very far beyond that sentence. The two of them telling stories about Toronto will certainly take up some space, though I'm not sure what kind of Toronto experiences they'll have yet. SB works for CBC arts, so celebrity encounters will be among what he describes. An encounter with SB's and SM's parents might be included as well. However, there's no real conflict there, as the only one I can think of would revolve around their race difference, and SB's parents had no problem with him living with my protagonist JJ for four years. Perhaps I can have things proceed somewhat ironically with no problems whatsoever, and have the entertainment value come from pithy observations and hints of inner despair, like I have throughout the rest of the book.

I think I've made a lot of progress just by writing that paragraph.
One of the blogs I've started reading is the immensely entertaining, Belle de Jour. Much of my enjoyment is found in her forthright honesty, perceptive observation of people, and her delicious turns of phrase. If you do not find this funny, then you either have no sense of humour whatsoever, or are a gigantic prude. Discussing a friend of hers whose girlfriend is jerking him around, she says:

"She still expects him to drop everything and come round as and when she wants, take her out for a meal and morose conversation, then drop her back home without so much as a blowjob. Some women have no shame."

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