Writing this past month became easier when I found my natural rhythm for the work flow. Since the project manager at my job told me to walk away from work at lunch time, I been taking my lunch breaks in my mobile office—a 1994 Pontiac Grand Prix—to edit the current manuscript.
Depending on the material that I’m editing it, I can usually get two to five pages done, or 10 to 25 edited pages per week. (As for eating lunch, I’m following a low-fat, sugar-free diet of crackers, granola bars, puddings, and yogurt that I eat throughout the day.) I spend two to four hours each week night to finish the editing, updating the e-file with changes, and/or composing something new on the typewriter or in longhand for two to five pages.
The weekends are for pursuing other creative endeavors (making Japanese noh masks in clay), running errands, playing video games (*cough* research for my novel *cough*), and reading dead trees. I don’t write on the weekend unless I have a self-imposed deadline or an inspiration to do so. This is working out quite well for me even though I want to push myself to do more writing than I have time for.
While editing the first draft of my vampire novella for a month felt like downing, editing the second draft over a two-week period went by much faster. Being focused on editing a chapter per day made a huge difference. Whatever concerns I had about the other chapters relative to the chapter that I was editing, I wrote them down on a notepad and made the changes later.
The second draft ended up being 97 pages long, divided into 14 chapters, and the 19,000+ word count is equivalent to the word count for the 22 short stories that I wrote before. Editing for the third draft starts next week. I expect this will take two to four weeks to finish since I want this to be the last draft. The finished manuscript should be sitting on the desk of an unsuspecting editor next month.
When I put aside my novella after finishing the second draft two weeks ago, I decided to restart my first novel that’s based on my six years as a video game tester. I was ready to get started since editing the novella that taught me a few things about handling longer works.
The first thing to toss out was the poster board and index cards for the outline. I downloaded, evaluated, and bought a license key for OmniOutliner, an electronic outlining program for the Mac. Working on the outline became a form of prewriting that expanded my limited vision of the novel when I used the poster board and index cards. The half-dozen scenes that I had in mind for the first few chapters became separate chapters in the outline. I started rearranging elements in the outline as needed when writing the chapters. Chapter One is already written, and Chapter Two should be done this week. My current plan is keep writing a new chapter every week for six months until I complete the rough draft with 35 chapters. The finished manuscript of my first novel should be done by July 2009.
“The Uninvited Spook” was published in The Storyteller (July/August/September 2008). I got an envelope today with $3.02 USD in cash for the story. No contributor copy, however, and I’m not vain enough to order a copy that cost more than I was paid to write the story even if it is my first published story. The sad thing is that $3.02 USD doesn’t cover a gallon of gas or a loaf of bread. The irony of being a writer.