Monday, August 2, 2010
how I'm spending my summer vacation...
BUT REALLY. I'm editing a book. This in itself is a vast, uncertain project that sometimes feels like going backwards. So far this summer, I have spent at least five or six straight weeks reading my book, thinking about my book, talking about my book, ignoring my book, making color-coded plot and character notes on endless streams of dot-matrix paper for my book, writing TWELVE THOUSAND words of notes (so far) about my book, and...I have yet to change a word of the actual book. The best part of all of this is that even though the process is overwhelming and...well, overwhelming is probably the best word I can use, actually...right now, at this moment, I actually feel eager to dive in and make this book better. And possibly more importantly, I feel confident, like I might have the ability to do so!
I'm also painting my back deck. This project is surprisingly similar to the editing project. Both of them are bigger than they first appeared. Both of them involve broad strokes that require courage and vision and tiny, fiddly little details that require patience and sustained attention. Both projects are taking a lot longer than I anticipated and include hidden work that nobody will ever see but without which the end result will be less likely to stand the test of time. Both projects have been delayed by rain, so to speak. Both projects mix poorly with rambunctious children. Both are about making steady improvements.
The nice part about the two projects is that they play well together. I do some of my best editing while wielding a paintbrush. Many times I have reached a mental obstacle in my editing process--or probably more accurately, I have found myself unable to focus my attention on editing (i.e. I fall asleep or find myself on the internet in the middle of a sentence), and I have left the desk and headed for the deck, only to return later with some of that obstacle chipped away by the brain I thought was fully occupied by brushing and belting out songs playing on my ipod. Somewhat sadly, this doesn't seem to work in the other direction--my subconscious has so far not managed to paint anything while I'm on the computer. (But psssst! Brain! If you should manage to start doing that, I encourage you to focus your attention on that damned lattice!)
In all likelihood, the deck will be finished well before the edits. Luckily, I live in an old house, and there's always another project. Likewise with writing.
In the meantime, we're off to play in the sandbox!