Squadratomagico has a nice description of how she came to have a solid draft of her second book:
Over the past two months, I pretty much doubled the size of my book manuscript. It went from readily fitting into a 1.5″ binder, with lots of extra room, to filling up a 2.5″ binder; I was writing about 4-5K words per week. There is more work to be done before I could even dream of sending it to a press — there are incomplete footnotes, directions to myself to amplify certain discussions, lots of polishing and streamlining to complete. In addition, over the past year I’ve been ruminating over a new dimension to my argument — a bigger, more exciting level of interpretation — and I need to integrate those ideas more thoroughly.
So, yes: there is a lot to do. But the fact remains that I have written a second book, even if only in draft. It was touch and go for a while, but I actually have a physical object now, a big pile of pages that I produced and that will someday be a bound volume with a cover and a title. For all those out there struggling: yes, you absolutely can get it done. At some point, you’ll suddenly find yourself at the top of whatever incline you have been ascending; then you’ll turn around only to see the landscape fall open before you on the other side. You’ll see the whole vista laid out. And then, you’ll slide right down into it with ease.
I think they key to this advice is not to skip over the “I was writing about 4-5K words per week” part. That’s how we get to the “whole vista laid out” and the easy walk down the mountain. As a quotation attributed to Thomas Jefferson says, “I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it.” I’m feeling the need to get to work and get lucky myself.
Congratulations, Squadrato! I hope you enjoy the hike down. (Click over there to see some of her book-related plans for Burning Man this year, too.)
9 thoughts on “Climb ev’ry mountain!”
Having just completed a full draft of my dissertation following a month of working at a blistering and entirely unsustainable pace, I can appreciate this feeling as well.
That said, I have also climbed a few literal mountains, including one this summer, and I find that the walk down absolutely destroys my knees. Let’s hope that side of the analogy isn’t fulfilled.
My advice has always been: 30 minutes is not too short a time to get some productive writing done. I used to think that I need at least half a day to get anything worth while written: but thirty minutes is enough–and if you can find thirty minutes every day to write, you can accomplish a great deal indeed.
I love that attributed-to-Jefferson quote! Good one!
Thanks for the congratulations. And, @ Ladysquires, I think fixing footnotes and formatting is not unlike destroying one’s knees… As I said, much hard work remains, but it’s enjoyable to be able to see the broad view, and to feel that one is within reach of the end.
Too bad King James I didn’t give this very peptalk to Captain Christopher Newport, who was assigned to drag and float a five-part segmented “barge” up the James River to the crest of the mountains, at which point he would be able to easily sail it down the other side into the South Sea, and thence to the East Indies.
I wrote draft dissertation chapters at one-a-month once, but for the second book it was down to one a semester while on leave, which I thought was terrible until a colleague in a related discipline told me that’s what she had shot for under the same circumstances. Don’t rest too easy once you send it off though. I just learned that a manuscript of mine has sat at the press for the better part of a year, unsent to readers and effectively unread there. Should have inquired or prodded, obviously, but as the old song says, naievete never sleeps.
Congratulations, Squadrato, on getting it done!
The inclines of hikes are at least as difficult on you as any other part. Yet, you can do it.
Congratulations Squadrato! And yes, it takes plugging along. I think one thing that is harder with a second book is that I don’t have the single focus that I did with my dissertation — my life was more complicated, and you can’t completely escape professional obligations. But just keep going.
Thanks, everyone! I just checked in after a 10-hour day of driving towards Burning Man (with another to come tomorrow) and it’s lovely to read your congratulatory comments!
Words to live by! Wasn’t it Clio Bluestocking who popularized the best writing advice I know – ABC: Apply Butt to Chair?
Squadratomagico’s done that and more. Enjoy your time at Burning Man.