Breakfast of Champions is easily in my top three novels by Kurt Vonnegut, and that puts it pretty darn high in my favorite novels of all time. The novel, in a way, is a meditative exercise. Vonnegut says in his foreword that he’s writing it as something of a 50th birthday gift to himself, a means of clearing out all the clutter and nonsense of his mind to carry on to the next season of his life with only that which matters and is sacred.
I’ve shared sections in the past week of the Foreword I wrote for Unicorns & Satellites, and while I’m nowhere near 50 (I turned 30 at the end of last year), I’m approaching this novel with something of the same intent of absolution. This novel is a means of getting out a lot of the things I’ve cluttered my mind and, I dare say, my heart with- some of it is dusty and been there for years, some of it all the more recent.
However, I recognize the change in myself, and the needs of this new season of life, and that I’d already been taking steps in how I move forward in the “after 30” years. I’ve talked before about a lot of those changes, steps taken, and habits established. I’ve been writing my whole life practically, however I consider the true start of my “work” and the grind to finally make something of it my day zero: when I deleted 2000+ pages of writing back in 2015 to start from scratch focusing on one project at a time.
I wrote Beneath the Wood over the course of a dedicated year, and I used that project to learn valuable lessons about managing my novels as projects, scheduling, querying, and more. I then applied those lessons to Five Talents, and that’s on its final legs before publishing as well.
Now that I’ve got the science down, it’s time for me to mix in a bit more spirit. This grind, this continuous pursuit of production and ongoing improvement at this craft is not only who I am, it’s who I want to be. As I move further forward into the next season of my life, this project I’ve started is something of an affirmation of that dedication in how I have a clear plan for tackling it.
This novel is me putting myself on the page, holding myself accountable, and hopefully pushing myself onward. It’s honestly a little daunting- even frightening- the kind of honesty I’m demanding of myself for this one. However, I don’t need false piety or non-existent saintliness to reflect on the page. I need humanity. I’ve got that. I’ve got 30 years of it. Time to get it all out there.
Time to move forward.