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Starting a novel. Raindrops.

These days I’m starting work on a novel about two mathematicians in love with the same woman. I think I’m calling it Mathematicians in Love, although originally I was thinking of it as Crazy Mathematicians. I’m working on the third of four scenes making up Chapter One, a scene where my character Bela Kis has been walking on Ocean Beach with a girl Alma Ziff whom he’s falling in love with.

Starting a novel is scary and hard. It’s like you’re picking the seed to grow a whole universe from. So much depends on every word. As chance would have it, seeding is a theme of the novel, as my characters will at two points be picking a seed to grow a new alternate universe to hampajump into.


Writing yesterday felt really good. Time’s been so heavy on my hands. When I’m writing, I’m in the zone, the ozone, mindless as in “the Zen doctrine of no mind,” absorbed by my craft — and the minutes and hours melt away.

It makes me anxious for the material to take on life. It’s gonna break my plot! An author needs to have graceful degradation of function while experiencing an increasing loss of control.

I’m happy and excited that it’s going so well. Running and running and finally jumping into the air, flapping, and yes, once again I’m aloft.

The other day I took Isabel to Ocean Beach, mainly for fun, but also to get some beach images in my head for Chapter One. And now I’ve written the beach part, and Bela and Alma are sitting in the Java Beach coffee shop looking at rain running down the window pane. So this morning to simulate rain, I set up the sprinkler in our back yard to hit the bedroom window and sat and looked at that for awhile.

The drops aren’t all that round, their edges are scalloped and jagged.


Big and small drops accumulate on the glass, and then one drop starts moving, and makes its way down, zigzagging as it “eats” the drops it gets near. Some of the drops get lucky and set off a big trickle. These guys are “riding the Tao.”

It looks like a sliding drop is sniffing its way. It moves left and right, influenced by the presence of droplets, and perhaps also by dirt, oil, soap residue on the glass. Note also that the trickle speeds up and slows down.

The trickles are objective correlatives for the lives of my characters. Or objective correlatives for people writing novels.

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