Tuesday, April 19, 2011


Progress on Regress

In 2007 I started writing stories about a character called Arturo Risas, the self-styled Duque de Costillas y Cosquillas. I was working on a farm in the Sierra de Guadarrama at the time and winter was drawing on. It was bitterly cold in the wooden cabin where I lived; and I huddled over a tiny heater while penning the tales, taking frequent breaks to do a typical comedy shiver: hugging my own arms and rubbing them with a vocal, "Brrrrr!!!" I wasn't planning to do much with these little tales. They were just a divertissement to pass the dull evenings. But somehow they became the opening chapters of a novel called The Pilgrim's Regress. I added more chapters: the thing became intricate and extremely metafictional. I knew I had a monster of unsaleable humour on my hands. But then, midway through 2008, I ran out of steam and abandoned the project...

That's not an uncommon habit with me. But I always console myself with the knowledge that I'm able to return to any half-finished work at any time and take up again exactly where I left off. I always planned to return to The Pilgrim's Regress after only a brief pause, but as that "brief pause" grew longer and longer, I began to fear that all the little complexities of the numerous subplots, the intricacies of the connections between events, ideas and conceits would be lost to my memory. I knew I had piles of notes in boxes, but my notes are often just mnemonics that quickly become baffling if not acted on rapidly.

So it was with some trepidation that I recently launched myself back into this novel. And to my relief, it all came back; or rather, much of it came back, and what didn't can be easily replaced with new (and perhaps better) things. I don't intend abandoning poor Don Cosquillas again; this time I plan to follow the pilgrim all the way to his ultimate regression!

Note: The photos that accompany this blog post are: (a) the moonbeam that Don Cosquillas accidentally wandered up, mistaking it for a road, (b) the hero of the novel in pilgrim garb badly impersonated by the author.

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