never trust a writer’s timeline (not this one’s anyway)

so, after all the excitement of last friday’s post, i enjoined you to return today in the expectation of reading news of the completion of the book.

for this, i apologize.

sadly, i got lost. what i thought had been completed and overcome, only led me to more questions and obstacles, which further derailed my progress. i have long known i can be an obsessive stickler about things like continuity and what i consider to be believability. i am generally let down by stories (written or visual) which treat me like a simpleton, who doesn’t care how one scene connects to the next, or whether a character’s past makes his or her choices realistic, or, most infuriatingly, those moments of painfully obvious deus ex machina, which seem but thin veneers for a lack of forethought.*

not only does this make me almost impossible to watch films or television with (just ask my beloved and saintly wife), it makes it impossible for me to write such scenes, even when these shortcuts would save me a lot of time and effort. as a result, i spend days banging my head against a wall trying to figure out a believable, realistic way for a character to deal with a situation, rather than simply skip over awkward scenes, create cliffhangers to hide weak plot points, or other such devices.

on the other hand, though, this means i have a tendency (surprise) to get wordy, and this is one of the things i work hardest to fix in my work. Ex: Witness was originally almost 650 pages long; the final draft is 325.

less doesn’t necessarily equal better, though (just as more doesn’t), and i continue to work toward a balance between depth and brevity, between detail and motion.

balance, however, is key in this, and the failure of my ability to remain balanced in my schedule this weekend led me to actually try an all nighter last night, in an attempt to finish the book’s penultimate scene.** over the weekend i wrote more than 6 pages of notes and scribbles and outlines in my work to conquer the obstacles that continued to appear (note again the importance of a detailed writing outline). this did finally lead to a genuine breakthrough, and spurred me to push onward, straight to the end.

a little after 3:30 this morning, however, as i wrote the 4th page of this final scene, i realized i was trying to rush it just to get through to the end. i’ve talked about this concern before, to just get to the end, but this time i was suddenly aware that i was doing it without bringing all my skills to bear. i was writing passages that i knew immediately would require revision, and this is not what i wanted.

i have tried to write the vast majority of this book’s first draft (with one notable exception in the middle), in as complete and polished a manner possible, to minimize my revision process. when i found myself writing just to be able to write ‘i finished’ here on the blog this morning, i knew i was in the wrong place. i have a great feeling for this scene, and I’ve been looking forward to it for too long not to give it the attention it deserves, the first time around. i don’t want to cheapen my own enjoyment of the experience.

with this in mind, i went to bed. i should’ve read last week’s blog posting, eh? it would’ve saved my wife the distinct frustration of dealing with my overtired, oversensitive self. i can be an ornery, stubborn old codger in the best of times. without sleep, though…

so, when will i be finished?

soon. -ish. really.
(with the first draft, at least.)


* make no mistake, though, i have my exceptions, particularly with stories/films from my childhood. In most cases, though, you really can’t go back.

** i’ve already written the ultimate scene, interestingly, which has been an excellent way of focusing the rest of the story, and has kept me true.