My desktop is still tied up in data recovery, only, it seems to have stalled. The progress bar didn’t move overnight or through the day. I did discover that several months of photos from 2011 were backed up on my portable drive, including some from a summer vacation to San Antonio (most importantly the photos shot at a couple of family vow renewal ceremonies) and the month of December, when our internet was down and I didn’t bother turning my desktop on, just dumped my photo files on the portable drive via my laptop and went on my merry, internetless way. I spent some time thinking of files potentially lost forever. 2011 was the year we had a blizzard in February, I finished my 3rd set of 365 self portraits in May, I was doing a photo a day project the whole year, and while I have all of the official shots on my flickr, there are always a few outtakes worth revisiting here and there. When I first take a photo, I might be judging it on its merit as art, but later, after a year or two, I’m just thinking of it as memory and it becomes much more important to me. I have spent some time the past couple of years going through my photos in 2010 and 2011, deleting the superfluous and blurry, but more importantly realizing that often my favorite shot down the line was NOT the one I chose to share initially, it’s the one with a slightly obscured but very real smile, the one where the camera shook because Shaun was making me laugh, the moment when we approached our house from a different angle and saw it had been transplanted into a winter wonderland, when it was so dark I shot it at ISO 3200, an imperfect, grainy memory. Perfect.
I decided yesterday that I wanted to hit 10k a day early. In a normal days writing, I would only be a couple of hundred words shy, so I wrote a 30 minute sprint with NaNoWordSprints on twitter and then three 15 minute sessions with Shaun when he got home. My first session felt like a complete waste of space, but sometimes that happens. You write a whole chapter that you wish you could erase, replace, but that’s not what November is for. The best thing about those wasted chapters is that you undoubtedly learn something from them. I learned something about a minor character and I established some of the supernatural mythology of my story. I immediately turned around and reintroduced just THOSE elements in the next chapter, as if for the first time, so if I ever get around to a rewrite, all I have to do is erase that chapter. No words are a waste in NaNoWriMo, and it’s kind of a painful lesson to teach yourself. I get better at it every year.
In between my wasted but not-wasted chapter and my 15 minute bouts with Shaun, I skimmed some gothic novels. I found one by Norah Lofts that has absolutely The Quintessential Gothic Plot. Originally published in 1959 (or was it published earlier under a different name?) it’s an early example that follows the perfect Jane Eyre formula. The cover says: Norah Lofts writing as “Peter Curtis” Bride of Moat House (originally titled No Question of Murder), which is quite a mouthful. It really reminded me of what I want to accomplish as year after year I churn out NaNoWriMo novels in this archaic genre. I’m searching for this gothic perfection, this feeling that they give me.