After a month or so of handwriting the beginning pieces of Bloodroot, I realized I had to pace myself even more than my plan to inscribe first drafts of Bloodroot in the mornings; do final revisions on What Holds Us Here in the afternoons.
I had never before encountered such a strong imperative to slow down my writing process. It was disorienting and I doubted it. I tried to fudge it a bit (slow down a bit more) but it didn’t co-operate. The writing faltered. At this point, it became apparent that the inscription stage required an unfailing, intense alertness that was incredibly taxing. Once I accepted that I couldn’t sustain it day after to day, I recognized that a rhythm of inscribing Bloodroot for one month at a time, then working on other writing projects the alternate month, worked.
Too, Bloodroot ignited deep feelings than I had never experienced in my inscription process before: feelings that had to be honoured. Not rushed through. This manuscript, more than any other I had written, taught me a crucial axiom: the narrative is the boss!
After a few months of inscription and revising of drafts by hand on my sofa, I wanted to check some details in the notebook I had kept for the months following my mom’s death. I searched everywhere for it to no avail. It had vanished. This gave me pause too: could I bring my full capacity to writing Bloodroot without it? It had clearly been the bridge to my beginning the manuscript. As the weeks passed sans notebook, I was forced to trust that I now carried that notation within my body. Somehow, I would be able to access the details I really needed as I wrote. This, too, proved to be true. And, it made the inscription process more intuitive and associative.
Ten years later, while preparing my second round of archives for the National Library, the little notebook surfaced inside another file folder.