Writing Update No. 6

Since my last writing update I’ve accomplished: the piano accompaniment of the Cheers theme song. Just kidding. I mean, I did learn to play that song, but I also have some notable writing progress to report–just not as much as I was pushing for.

In my last update, I said that I wanted to push myself to finish all of the new-content-adding that I had left of my book, tens of thousands of words that I would then only have to edit down. I did not accomplish that goal. I did, however, make some solid progress on the new content. I’ve written the rest of section four, and a good chunk of section five, as well as some more pieces here and there to fill in gaps I left in the chronology.

But the biggest step forward these past couple weeks is that I’ve started having someone read through it all for me. Which meant going back to the beginning (again) and making sure each section was ready to be read. This pushed me to make some hard edits I’ve been hesitating about, and to actually come up with a finished project as far as I could at the time. I’ve printed out the first three sections for my reader to review, which is my first time printing any of it at all and means I’m pretty happy with where those parts stand. I’ve only talked through the first section so far with my reader, and we’ve got plans for the second section chat coming up, and by the time my reader is done with the third section I’ll have the fourth section done with its final round of edits and ready for printing, and the same for section five, at the rate I’m going. That’ll be more than halfway through the book, which is exciting, and while I still have some work to do on the latter half, I do have two full sections of those remaining four done except for a final round of editing, and most of a third one written and saved but not all put together in order yet. It’s all on the near horizon, though. The end is in sight. Originally, I planned to finish a full solid draft before I started sharing it with anyone, but one day last week I decided all of a sudden that I was ready to start collecting second opinions, and that maybe if I had any major problems in the part that was finished it would affect how I was carrying out my work with the rest of it. Although I’ve only talked with my reader about the very first section, about 12,000 of my eventual 90,000 words, a lot of my big questions about what was working or not have been answered positively from the content and layout of that section. I’m pretty confident that with all the editing I’ve been doing as I go, I won’t have any major changes left to make at the end of this draft.

My goal for next time: by the time I update again in a couple of weeks, I want to have finished editing and printing sections four and five. How much I’ve gone through with my reader by that time will depend on my reader’s schedule, but I think there’s a possibility of getting through all or most of those sections with my reader by then. I also want to keep moving forward into section six, which is really the biggest empty gap I have left to fill. After that the end will really be in sight.

My eventual goal: I started working on this book at the end of last June, and I want to be finished with it before I hit the year mark. I feel like that’s a reasonable time frame, and still an attainable goal. Since I’ve been working so slowly, aiming for quantity and quality at the same time, and have been dealing with various other events, I think that by the time I get through the whole thing once, and have my reader get through it, all I’ll need to do are some small changes at the sentence level, and maybe give the completed product to a second reader after those, just in case.

I’m getting ahead of myself, though. I’m going to be focusing on sections four, five, and six, the middle third of the book, for next time. If I can get close to finished with that (which is already almost halfway done), the biggest writing tasks remaining at this point will be complete.

I feel like I’m a little all-over-the-place with my writing right now, but it’s like when you start cleaning your room and at first it just looks messier but then in the end it all comes together. Everything is a mess, but I can see how it will start coming together, and I’m going to keep pushing myself to work hard and finish within the deadlines I’ve set.

Is it normal to really only have one full draft before I’m finished? (Is there any such thing as “normal” in the writing process?) Do you edit as you go, or finish a whole project and then go back and make changes all at once?


The Literary Elephant


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