|Lawrence and camel, from Jordan Jubilee|
(Photo is probably fake, like Lawrence.)
Hi, everybody. We're back from our travels and I am now resuming work on my novel. The trip to Israel was a major detour, which then led me into other byroads (readings and discussions related to the region, some of which I've mentioned in my blog) taking me far off the track. To show how far afield I've wandered, I even got into T. E. Lawrence's version of his terror campaign against the Ottoman empire, partly because I wanted to re-read his descriptions of Wadi Rum (he writes it "Rumm") and the breakup of that territory. All of it fascinating, and possibly material for a future novel or short story or several essays, but marching to Damascus in 1918 or Jerusalem in 1947 (with Amos Oz) is not going to get me any closer to Paris, 1871. I still owe my readers reviews of some of this material, including the short novel by Oz, another one by Israel's Nobel-prize winning Agnon, David Grossman's sensitive (but dated) reportage on the occupied territories, and Lawrence's tendentious and fascinating tale of his adventures — bloody, comical and homo-erotic by turns — and self-acknowledged treachery of the Arabs. And then I want to drop the subject, at least for a while.
Back on track, since I'm the only one imposing deadlines on myself, I've decided generously to extend this one. I now propose to finish my draft of the novel about Paris by my birthday, in April. This is to give the concept of "deadline" a more literal sense, though maybe I should call it a "lifeline". Anyway, a birthday is a convenient marker. I'll tell you more as it develops. So far I have my main characters and the story thread — though not its conclusion — clearly in mind, which is a good start.