(Past) Time to Get Serious

Those who know me well know that I am ever so slightly obsessed with measurement. I love tracking things and generally seeing data that isn’t otherwise obvious at a first glance. Just this morning I heard a program on the Diane Rehm show about how personal genome sequencing is about to become affordable. The thought of having that kind of data about my own nuts and bolts, so to speak, is very appealing (and also frightening). So, in the vein of statistic keeping, as they say on Marketplace, here are the numbers:

You may notice that my word count has not changed much since the last time I posted it. Part of the problem that I’ve been having with the new book is that my current draft is a bit of a hodge-podge. Bits and pieces, abbreviated scenes, things that I’ve moved from one place to another so that the whole thing lacks logical cohesion. In a word, it’s a mess. To get back on track there were two things I had to come to terms with.

1. Things will have to be cut.

One of the most fundamental flaws I have as a writer is that I am loathe to lose any material. At all. Being obsessed with word count I hate to see that number move in the wrong direction. On top of that, sometimes the material that needs cutting is good — it just doesn’t fit. But it takes me a while to let go of it. (I never really let it go — I just put it in another file in hopes I can use it elsewhere.)

2. Work-a-day. The most fun part of writing for me is sitting back in a comfy chair with a notebook and just letting things flow. It’s not always easy and it often doesn’t flow at all but when it does, it is the closest thing that approaches enjoyment in writing. The work-a-day stuff is getting out the red pen and slashing and trashing. It is also shifting and shoving and making diagrams and notes and making sure it all fits together the way it should. I have finally had to accept that my book as it stands right now — a cobbled together Frankenstein’s monster — needs some serious surgery. So I have traded the comfy chair for the hard desk and bright lights. I am in full attack mode and already feel the better for it. I can see the book’s shape emerging from the chaos and once I am finished this hard bit  I can move forward. It’s ugly but it has to be done. Ugliness below (with spoiler-y bits redacted).

So, I forsee that during the next few weeks my word count will remain largely constant as I finish clean up. After that, it’s full speed ahead.

8 thoughts on “(Past) Time to Get Serious”

  1. Holy mackanolie! You are flippin’ organized. No wonder your work is so awesome. I simply plod along vomiting words onto the page and hoping there’s light at the end of the tunnel.If those pictures are your actual manuscript and a notebook full of orderly notes…well, I’m lost.
    Thanks for the insight and the ideas.

  2. I’m NOT by nature but I find if I don’t force myself, it’s a disaster! You’re doing NaNoWriMo, right, Jeanne? How’s it going?

    1. Haha, Pol, I WISH I was Jane Austen. And, yeah, I know… I’m not a Luddite (I don’t think!) but I do still prefer to do it this way. It is time consuming though.

  3. I feel the same way about cutting “good” paragraphs from academic papers. It’s painful, even when it makes for a better paper.

    It’s fun to see a snapshot of your process. Good luck with the editing!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *