At times the world seems to be conspiring against me. I have to drop what I’m doing, load up the van, and head up to town for something as mundane as groceries. Food should order itself, deliver itself, and put itself away.
But no. Where is my android butler and why is he not doing the shopping? Just like the flying car I was promised when I was child, my android butler is in the Jetsons‘ style garage of my imagination.
But sometimes I get two or three pages of writing done in the 20 or 30 minutes before I have to leave the house for an appointment. There is something about the pressure of knowing I will have to quit at a certain time that forces me to be more productive than I would ordinarily be.
Why is this? When I am pressed for time I use every second to get those ideas out of my head. I don’t stop and research on the good, old, time-wasting internet, and I don’t worry about whether or not I am overusing a word in the narrative. This is a rough draft–all of that can be ironed out when I have more leisure–the next day usually.
Some of my best ideas have come about under a time crunch. Normally when I am writing on a stream-of-consciousness level, I can key about fifty words a minute–paltry compared to today’s young-uns who grew up keying their homework rather than writing it in cursive.
I do admit that just because I can key those words does not mean they will all make sense, or be worth reading. But that again is why we are driven to look at what we just wrote the day after we wrote it–did it say what I meant? How many times did I use the word “noose” in that particular chapter and where am I going to find six different alternatives for such a unique word?
A little rephrasing here, cutting there, and voila! It looks like a poodle!
It’s a jungle in my head sometimes, and my ancient student edition of Roget’s Thesaurus is my friend. But neither the old student version of the thesaurus from 40 years ago, nor the modern, online version is cutting it for me right now.
I need more synonyms. Lots, and lots more!
I have just now invested in a bigger, better, hardcover thesaurus. Thus I now have the Oxford American Writers’ Thesaurus winging it’s way to my doorstep. I expect the drone to drop it on Saturday.
Some references have to be in hard-copy–such as The Chicago Manual of Style, which is the most comprehensive style guide geared for writers of essays, fiction, and nonfiction. Strunk and White’s Elements of Style is a good beginner style guide, but I found it hard to navigate and couldn’t always find what I wanted. The Chicago Manual of Style is written specifically for writers, editors and publishers and is the industry standard.
Just as a side note–if you are using AP style you are writing for the newspaper, not for literature–two widely different styles with radically different requirements. AP style was developed for expediency in the newspaper industry and is not suitable for novels or for business correspondence. For business, you want to use the Gregg Reference Manual.
All in all, I like the way being forced to produce words in a short time helps me lay down a rough draft. But being short on time is big pain when I am trying to revise and iron out stubborn, repetitive wrinkles in a narrative.
Summer is nearly over, and with that comes the long, dark days of the northern winter. I won’t be going as many places (I hope). But with the advent of September I will be spending longer hours editing for clients. My personal productivity will drop in regard to my own work, but I will still find time to write.
And I will also find time to revise. I am nearly at the end of two books written for the World of Neveyah series. Valley of Sorrows will wind up the Tower of Bones series–it is completed and is in revisions. The Wayward Son is nearly complete. While The Wayward Son is not actually a part of the Tower of Bones series, much of it does run concurrently with Forbidden Road, as it is the story of John Farmer’s redemption.
Today will be busy–groceries can wait until tomorrow. Today I am working as hard as I can, trying to get Valley of Sorrows ready to be edited, so that the ToB series will be complete, and also to get John’s story out there too.