The Slow-Cooked Sentence


Rachael Conlin Levy
Courtesy of John Steven Fernandez.

4:30 a.m.

I’m at my desk with a mug of something hot … tea, hot cocoa, coffee, chai. The furnace hasn’t kicked on so I’m wearing a bathrobe, wool slipper-socks and a fleece snow hat with chili peppers. The hat’s band squeezes my head softly, and my brain needs that hug, that massage, early in the morning to get the juices flowing. I write until 6 a.m.

Things I’m learning in the dark hours before dawn: That I can wake and write with sleep in the corner of my eyes, because my head is warm and my brain is yawning and stretching with that first cup of caffeine and forcing stiff fingers to write down what it’s thinking, remembering, imagining. So, there’s not a lot of good writing going on, and much of it’s stiff and awkward or is written in fragments, just fits and bursts of stream of consciousness. But participating in National Novel Writing Month has allowed me to accept that my first draft will be crap, that it should be, and to not worry about it, to not go back and read it, but to just keep shoveling out more and more words knowing that if I do so this month, then I can spend the next 11 months turning all of that raw stuff into a great story.

“The best way to have a good idea is to have lots of ideas. ”
Linus Pauling

“round and ’round” courtesy of Darwin Bell.

What am I writing about so early in the morning? Many of the ideas come from memory, from dry deserts and star-studded skies. I chase after tumbleweeds of tangled story threads, unraveling, recording, and trying not to worry about the thorns being planted because there’s no plot or central character out there, just me wandering blindly and happily across the blank page.

Courtesy of Pensiero.

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