Monday, June 29, 2009

Alex approaches SE7EN years old

Okay, the ten-minute timer's going. It may be the same date, but I'm trying to do some writing earlier in the day rather than wait until the wee hours of the morning, post-midnight. Most of the (half-million) books on writing I’ve read recommend working early, as close to waking up as possible, but I've always been a "night writer" myself. I'm determined to make the most of my 10-day break (which is now down to a week flat) by working for two hours, then a one-hour break with my wife and boys, then two on one off again, etc. Hopefully I can get in something close to a full workday that way and not feel so guilty for sitting at the computer in front of my boys for so long at a time. They understand I'm pursuing a noble career goal here, something I even call my "second job" (full-time school is my first these days), but it's still hard to ask a 6- and 5-year-old to not bother their dad when he's sitting on the living room sofa in clear view most of the day with earbuds in. Thus the breaks. Alex seems to understand the concept of "Papa has to work" better than Dan, but both occasionally can't help interrupting. I try to be as patient as I can.

Speaking of Alex and 6-year-olds, today is June 29 and his seventh birthday is in two days on July 1. We're going to invite Greg and Angie and Zach over if we can, although we understand they're busy and can't necessarily just run over in the middle of the week. We saw Greg back on the 18th when he and Angie came and saw Irina's summer ballet/pointe performance (and in fact we saw Greg at the Save-Mart across the street two days ago, decked out in his sharp Polo clothes and grabbing something before a Christian singles dance nearby). Luckily we get paid tomorrow so Alex gets more than just a rock on his big day.

I got all hyped up and worked until six on my book, including printing up a summarized scene list so I can analyze the overall flow of my book and where it gets bogged down, repetitive, or otherwise "choppy." Sol Stein, in one of his brilliant books on writing, recommends a "triage" method where you work on your novel's biggest problems first (such as scene arrangement and flow) before you rewrite material and worry about other potential problems like continuity, character motivation, dialogue, description, etc. I love the theory, but I obviously haven't followed it. Hell, by the time I read his advice – even if I intended to follow it to the letter – I was on my third draft at least. Anyway, it's good for me to learn by doing, and I think I've made every conceivable error in the construction of my first novel by now. It's been a 3 ½-year journey so far, but I have faith that the outcome will be good. I had a sort of "insight" as I went to bed last night, and that was – after all the work I've put into crafting this thing – I can't imagine I'll just get nothing but flat-out refusals from agents and publishers. I think it's good enough that they'll suggest rewrites and see enough potential in the piece that they'll want to work with me on it. Of course, I could be completely wrong, as I'm sure many first-time writers have had the same thought, even as they collected polite rejection after rejection.

That's ten! (I have to admit that after my ten is up I give myself another ten to correct, proofread and rewrite for readability.) Thanks for hanging with me, and I’m off to work!


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