Today is the Day

Patrick Rothfuss

Many weeks have passed since I was at my top form as a researching-writing-editing machine.  I can blame/excuse/explain a certain amount of that, but the fact remains, as the handy clicker at the bottom of the screen shows, that time is passing and this sabbatical will come to an end and the project has got to, got to, got to get done.  I have tied off those distractions with a bow, as much as I can, or sent them to the corner with a time-out. This is the day, this is the week, to get back to it full-time.

What that return entails, and part of the reason it’s been hard to face, is the reduction of my manuscript by about one-third of its length.  This is no longer editing down the story to make a more compelling version of that story.  Drawing from some very important, indeed necessary, but still hard-to-take advice that I got from a senior colleague who has always been very nice to me, especially considering that he is a famous person in the field we share and I am not, is to find a shorter story.  That’s a simple thing to say, and a wise thing to say; it’s a freaky hard thing to do.  I’ve nursed one idea of what this book was about for a few years, but–especially after talks with potential publishers–it’s just not viable in its current heft.

The irony is, as explained by one potential editor, that the length would be fine if my architect was already well-known.  But I have to publish this thing to introduce him to a lot of folks.

I don’t like unleashing my turmoil on the world but maybe it will be useful for someone else to read, and also hopefully it will be important for me to commit to this new approach once I air it on the interwebs.  I need to find a smaller story and edit to that, ruthlessly casting aside what will be, no doubt, a lot of great stuff that I have toiled over.  BUT I WILL NOT GRIEVE for I am not casting out my baby to be eaten by a dingo.  A better metaphor is carving a smaller, but equally beautiful, sculpture out of one that was nearly complete, leaving enough stone intact for later work down the road.

This will work out, this will work out, this will work out.  But the first step is to face the digital files that have been collecting virtual dust for a while, and follow Patrick Rothfuss’ advice as pictured above.  More encouragement to come.  One day I will look back on this as the day I turned the barge, away from stormy seas and into the harbor of publication viability. YES THAT’S IT!

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One thought on “Today is the Day

  1. Jeff Klee says:

    Those little spare parts that you’re cutting, they’re not lost. The little bits and pieces that fall on the ground are seeds of articles. In some cases, they may be entire articles! Yes, it will work out, and in the end, you’ll look like a hero who got a book and four articles out in a single year.

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