Well, I finally finished transcribing all the quotations from and notes I've taken on the critics' essays on Disgrace. In total, the document ended up exceeding 140 pages of single-spaced text. I also finished re-reading the novel earlier this evening. I'd bought another copy of Disgrace a day or so before Christmas because I did not want to risk damaging my already-disintegrating copy of the book by subjecting it to the rigors of holiday travel. Also, I thought it would be a splendid idea to try and read the book (and jot down even more notes) without my previous scrawl to distract me. I figure that when I begin transcribing all that stuff tomorrow, I can compare the two copies and see if I underlined all the same passages and such. You know, see if I'd missed anything. This way, hopefully, I'll have about as thorough a selection of material from which to draw as possible when I begin what promises to be an exceedingly long period of prewriting.
Since I have been away from writing since the spring, I have to admit I am a bit nervous about beginning the chapter. Whatever groove I'd gotten myself into back then has morphed into something quite different. Naturally, I am also relieved to have finally finished was has been, admittedly, an extremely tedious procedure, but with that relief comes the realization that I must face the blinking curser and begin writing. Again.
Furthermore, working with the sheer amount of critical writing on Disgrace is more than a little daunting. I mean, I know what it is I want to say but I am currently struggling to find a way to situate my reading of the novel within a huge body of pre-existing discourse without subverting my voice or ignoring the relevant voices of others. It will be tough, I reckon, to sort things out, but I am going to follow the same approach that has served me so well in the past: doing a small but significant amount of work each day, devoting a good chunk of time to the plotting out and outlining of the chapter, and reminding myself daily that Rome wasn't built in a day.
The anxiety, obviously, stems primarily from the fact that there's just so much of everything: critical essays, notes, quotes, things to say, references to check, bibliographical entries to be made. I simply feel overwhelmed, which is why I will have to spend as much time prewriting as I suspect I am going to be doing over the next few weeks -- a stage in the process I really do not enjoy because it means I have to shake myself out of the inaction that has settled in and begin the invariably hard (though rewarding) phase of creative endeavor.
I will, naturally, keep my handful of readers posted.
For tomorrow: Either transcribe a bit of notes from the novel, work on the bibliography, or begin reviewing the 140+ pages of stuff I just transcribed.