A brief visit back to the grindstone

December 27, 2011 Personal, Writing Comments (2) 530

I had a terrific little Christmas with my family, as we do pretty much every year. We tend to overdo Christmas, considering all of the “kids” are now around 30. The five of us gather around the tree and open about a hundred thousand presents that we’ve bought one another. For the last three years, my Dad has developed his very own “Deal or No Deal” home game (my Dad really likes TV – a lot) where the grand prize is $2,500. I didn’t win the grand prize (none of us did) but I did win a pretty tidy little sum that takes the sting out of holiday spending. I also got a lot of very thoughtful gifts, one of them quite dangerous: a Playstation 3.

The danger, of course, is that I will spend the next 2-12 months doing little but shooting virtual men in the head. This could have disastrous consequences on my writing career, my day job, my weight, and my cardiovascular health. Video games are one addiction I have been prone to in the past – most of my memories of 2006 were made in Azeroth, a world to which I don’t think I can ever risk going back. So this gift will require a bit of self-control.

The next couple of weeks are going to be super-busy, video games or no video games. I’m headed to NYC for New Year’s Eve, not to stand around Times Square and pee in a Big Gulp cup with the tourists, but to run a 4-mile race at midnight in Central Park, with Liz and her sister. A little less than a week after that, we’re headed to Orlando for a Disney vacation with a few friends. Oh, and for more running. I’m running the Disney Half Marathon, and Liz is running that PLUS the full marathon the next morning. It’s hard to imagine how we are going to be capable of walking around theme parks after that, but we’ll get by.

So the priority for the next few days is to get as much work done on the new novel (still untitled, despite my best efforts to come up with something) and to lose some of the holiday weight I’ve been putting on at an alarming pace. Some running and some healthy eating (rather than the all-chocolate-and-baked-goods diet I’ve been on since late November) should do the trick. After running a 1:50 in the Philadelphia Half Marathon, I’d hate to be the tub of guts guy dropping out of the Disney Half because his boobies hurt.

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Neck deep in revisions

December 18, 2011 Writing Comments (1) 343

The second month of revisions is one of those times I start to loathe a manuscript. The good news is, things are moving fast. I don’t think there will be a third month before this draft is ready for test readers.

The highlight so far:┬áMy goal for this book was to market it at under 100,000 words. When I finished the first rough draft, it was 120,000+ words, and I was left to figure out how to cut nearly a fifth of the narrative. By the time I finished my read-through, I realized I’d duplicated a few chapters and passages by virtue of my not-so-thorough understanding of Scrivener. Removing those passages knocked the overall length down to around 96,000. The only word for that: Huzzah.

Further revisions have me down to nearly 90,000 words, and I’m not quite halfway through yet. This is especially good because I think it will take 10-15 thousand words to fill in gaps I’m finding as I go. I expect the final first draft (which I share with test readers) to clock in around 96,000 words, give or take 3,000.

The bad part is, I was hoping to have this revision completed by the end of 2011. I even thought about wrapping a first draft as a gift for some of my test readers (the ones who read my work because they enjoy it, rather than as a favor to me). At the pace I’m moving, though, it looks like I’ll be wrapping up my first revision sometime in January. Not that I’m complaining.

My process, in a nutshell: I don’t like to start revisions until I’ve finished a first draft, and try (somewhat successfully) to avoid even looking back at earlier chapters while I’m writing. Yes, this means there’s some inconsistency with plot, location, names, and such. I’m okay with that – the important thing is forward momentum. Continue Reading

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The most profound words ever captured in song?

December 16, 2011 Personal Comments (1) 213

“No one in the world ever gets what they want, and that is beautiful
Everybody dies frustrated and sad, and that is beautiful.”



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Philly Writers Group / How Occupy Philly Drove Me Away

December 6, 2011 In The News, Politics / Religion, Writing Comments (1) 344

Yes, the Occupy Sign App is real.

Saturday I attended the monthly Philadelphia Writers Group meetup, which is always a terrific experience. If you’re a writer and you aren’t finding some opportunity to discuss your craft and your work with peers, you simply must remedy that – meetup.com is a good place to start looking.

A few of us went for drinks after the meeting, and the conversation turned to Occupy Philly. At the time of our November meeting the encampment on Dilworth Plaza outside City Hall was thousands strong. On Saturday it was gone, cleared away by police so construction crews can start tearing up Dilworth for a major renovation project. In that same month, everyone at the table agreed, Occupy managed to squander considerable popular support and goodwill and alienate most of Philadelphia.

In October I wrote a post about my participation in the Occupy movement. Others at our table had taken to the streets, and voiced their prior support. Yet by December we were all fed up, and everyone agreed on the reasons: Occupy Philly stopped being about a message we supported [my attempt at summary: to counter the Corporate power-grab in America and fix the system that privatizes profit and socializes loss] and became a petty squabble over Dilworth Plaza. Continue Reading

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