Halfway -- 11/15/03

Halfway through November, but not halfway through the novel.

That word total might not look that good -- and, indeed, I had hoped to have a higher total by now -- but in actuality, I'm not doing that badly.

The problem is that I lost last weeked. I just didn't feel well; I think I had a touch of some bug that had Nancy feeling quite sick on Friday and Saturday. (When I came home from work last Friday I found that Nancy had gone right to bed after getting home from work.) So I got no writing done on that Saturday and Sunday. Sat at the computer on Saturday, brought my 5244 words up and read them, but added nothing.

However, I did get in a good amount of work on Tuesday. I took a vacation day. First thing in the morning I put up the flag (for Veteran's Day), ate breakfast, read the paper, booted the computer, read email, read some journals, etc. Did some online research. Yeah, okay, stalling. My novel being set in the 50's and 60's I was noodling around in some sites that show the hits on the music charts for various dates. There are some songs I associate very strongly with particular dates, others that I associate with a particular school year, and many that I just remember as oldies from back then sometime. Eventually I finished with my goofing off and started typing. When I did, the words seemed to come.

One of my problems is that I did not plan anything out in advance. Thus, I find myself describing a scene, decide I need a particular character, have to invent him, decide on a name. When something happens in a particular building, what is the name of the street? Things like that. It would not have been cheating to decide some of that kind of stuff in advance. I had considered doing that, but just never seemed to be able to set aside the time to sketch that all out. Thus, when I do plop myself down in front of the computer to write, the writing sometimes gets paused while I think about things like that. I would guess that I'm averaging almost five hundred words an hour. I had hoped that I would be producing a bit more quickly than that, but I keep losing time to thinking instead of writing.

Anyway, I don't think I'm too far behind schedule on this. I have discovered that I can't write on workdays. By the time I get home and have to face dinner preparation, etc., it's a miracle if I can even find time to get in a workout. And by the time dinner is over and the kitchen is clean, I am just too tired. This was not unexpected. I had not planned on getting work done on weekdays, although I had hoped that I might get in a little something from time to time, but I knew that I had to count on weekends and days off. There are five weekends in this November. I have three left, counting this weekend that we have just reached. However, I am also taking all of Thanksgiving week off. Thanksgiving Day is booked -- five mile race in the morning, the usual gigantic family gathering for the rest of the day -- and I don't expect to get anything done that day and, actually, we are hosting a dinner/party on that Wednesday evening for family members who will be in town in advance of Thanksgiving. That still leaves me with lots of time during the rest of that week. Call it the equivalent of two weekends. So, really, that is like two weekends down and five left to write. I'm behind, but not too badly and as the bugs get worked out of my writing process, I hope to catch up. At five hundred words an hour, I need to get in eighty hours. Allow for time staring at monitor, thinking... even so, I should be able to do that in the equivalent of five weekends.

So I'm a bit incoherent right now... woke up around 2:30 am, couldn't get back to sleep so I got up around three, ate breakfast, read email and journals, etc., then started writing. Jeremy came down around six a.m.; the wind woke him up. (The wind has been fierce -- up in Pautucket, RI, an old abandoned mill complex that was scheduled to be demolished caught fire -- not only were the mill buildings destroyed, the wind spread the fire to a nearby residential neighborhood, winds gusting in the 40 to 50 mph range blew burning embers so that homes as far as three blocks away caught fire. 13 homes were burned, several of them were three family homes... what's called a triple-decker house in Rhode Island.) Jeremy and I talked a bit, he was doing some computer stuff, trying some network configurations, then eventually he left to work at his grandmother's house, replacing her bedroom floor, ripping up old wall-to-wall carpeting and replacing it with nice oak hardwood flooring. So I got in some more writing, then Nancy and I went to Providence for a walking tour, looking at architectural details, historic buildings, etc. Nine p.m. now and I'm struggling to stay awake.

How's the novel itself looking? Well, it looks very much like an off-the-top-of-the-head rough draft. Lots of stuff that needs to be gone over, lots of stuff that is missing or just indicated by a note to myself that some explanation or description should go there. Some of it really clunks and thunks, but there are some parts that I think might have a bit of life to them.

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