Haste makes waste. I’m up to 11,300 words as of today, but there are some structural problems that will have to be addressed in future drafts. I’ve also got two very complicated days ahead of me, with various appointments and obligations. (By the way, I keep forgetting to mention that I’m at Olsson’s tonight, the one in Penn Quarters, helping to promote BAD GIRLS, an anthology of essays. Yes, I’m in there, although it took me a while to find a topic.)
My hunch is that I’ll end up in the 13,000-14,000 range at week’s end, shy of my word goal, but ahead of my chapter goal (which was five, a chapter a day.) In fact, I’ve already exceeding that, with six chapters completed and a seventh started this morning. I might work this weekend, something I try to avoid when possible, and I still have some writing time next week before I head out for Harrogate.
This won’t be the first time I’ve traveled without my laptop. In fact, I did it the last time I went to Harrogate, although I can’t remember why. (The book in progress back then was TO THE POWER OF THREE, and that one gave me fits right up until deadline.)* As I noted on the Powells blog last week, I finished BY A SPIDER’S THREAD in Edinburgh. The proposal for this book (oh, it has a title ANOTHER THING TO FALL) was fine-tuned in a coffee house in St. Simon’s, and WHAT THE DEAD KNOW was worked on in New Mexico, Phoenix, Florida and Wisconsin, while I was touring last summer.
I wanted to go laptop free because mine is relatively heavy; I use the iBook G4 designed for school children. But the bottom line is that I don’t think I’ll have much time to write, anyway, and I think the break will be beneficial, especially for the book. (I’m beyond help.) I’m going to read — I have several galleys, including one by Ray Banks — and think. Revolutionary, I know, but I had an editor back at the Baltimore Sun who maintained that there’s nothing wrong with thinking. Which was, in fact, considered a revolutionary idea in a newsroom. In fact, the request to think, for a moment, before grabbing a pad and running out the door, was wildly suspect. Granted, if something’s burning, you just need to get there. But I was a feature writer and I was often asked to have a “take” on the news.
–What’s up with this Survivor tee-vee show?
–It’s spring. Aren’t people going to nurseries or something?
–Linda Tripp is an ugly bitch. Discuss. (This is, in fact, not that far off from an assignment I was given, one that I found absolutely appalling, because while I thought Tripp had behaved oddly, to say the least, I thought the visceral reaction to her appearance was misogynistic.)
–Are people planning to watch Miami Vice or Dallas tonight? (This is, I think, word-for-word what I was asked to do, in the long-ago ’80s.)
–Hey, what’s in the lost-and-founds at local motels at the end of the summer in Waco? (I actually like doing this story and still remember, TWENTY-FIVE YEARS later, the manager who said cheerfully, “I could dress you from the pantyhose up.”)
Lost to the ages, a written assignment from the Waco Tribune-Herald city editor, who asked me to cover the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new bathrooms in a riverside park, adding helpfully “No big deal.” You know, just in case I came running back in, screaming “Stop the presses! They had bologna sandwiches.” Oh, he also — I could not make this up — asked me to get the full “poop.” For years, I kept it in a frame on my desk, reminding me that things could always be worse.
Which brings us to a memory: nadirs, professional or personal. Got one?