Thursday, May 20, 2010

A Race Against Time


A Race Against Time, or: Extreme Writing
by G.M. Malliet

So, what does a volcano and Italy have to do with writing? This week, everything.

I'm set to vacation for about two weeks in Italy soon, and there never was a greater motivator to get my current manuscript in some kind of readable shape (so I have a hope of recognizing it when I see it again). I've in fact been planning the book around this trip for months, working up to the day on the calendar where I can take a break and start packing. The plan is to resume work, refreshed, and with a new perspective, on my return.

There is a sense of panic inherent in this method of working, and in taking such a large break, but an early, "fake" deadline also works wonders in getting a writer like me off the dime.

They tell me that volcano in Eyjafjallajökull (yes, I had to look that up) might erupt again and ground air traffic, but a little thing like a volcano is not going to stop me now from getting to Italy.

*****

About two weeks ago, I stopped meandering and following every bypath in the manuscript to see where it led. Instead, I began reading through the whole manuscript as fast as I could (which for me is not fast, but still). The point of this is to step back and see as much of the entire story at once as possible. To note the potholes, the incongruities, the laughable inconsistencies and redundancies, but not to get completely bogged down in fixing them right now. To simply make a mark by the places I need to revisit.

When I come back from my trip, I'll go in for the closeup view again. But reading the book now the way a reader will read it--not pausing every ten seconds but plowing straight through--is invaluable, like a movie director pulling back for the wide shot. (Before I'm done, I'll also read through the whole thing again at a medium speed, then again at a snail's pace. Before I'm done, I may feel I never want to read this book again, in fact.)

Almost there now. Nothing is going to stand between me and the reward of Italy I've promised myself as I read and edit, read and edit.

Volcano? What volcano?

Video of volcano: CBS.com
Photo of Tuscany: TripAdvisor.com
Photo of volcano: NationalGeographic.com

10 comments:

Jess Lourey said...

The wonderful focus of your post is getting a solid first draft of your manuscript done, of course, but I'm all moony-eyed at the thought of going to Italy. Which part? Wait, and which book is this?

G.M. Malliet said...

Jess - Going to Tuscany. I've never been and can hardly wait to get there.

This is the first Max Tudor/Anglican priest book I'm working on.

Keith Raffel said...

OK, Gin. For those of us who are a little dense, please explain again the connection between volcanoes and finishing your ms.

Darrell James said...

Gin- I'm way jealous! (Of Tuscany, not the deadline.) Keep your eye on the prize!

G.M. Malliet said...

Keith, it's more that nothing is going to stop me getting to Italy, since that is the "carrot" that has kept me motivated for so long. Certainly, no mere volcano can stop me. I'll swim there if I have to.

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

Hope everything goes well with the deadline! I know you're going to have a blast in Tuscany.

Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

I have a deadline looming, too, but, alas, no wonderful vacation as a reward.

Have a fabulous time in Tuscany, Gin! BTW, if you do swim there, make sure you get photos of that.

G.M. Malliet said...

Sue Ann - A splurge at a nearby spa works as well, or a new pair of shoes.

I sometimes get myself from chapter to chapter on the promise of a cupcake reward at the end of the day.

Whatever works.

Jess Lourey said...

My family and I went to Tuscany last June, and everything good I'd heard about it wasn't nearly enough. Loved the bustling farmer's markets, cafes, fresh wine and cheese. You're going to have a magnificent time!

G.M. Malliet said...

Jess - I'm reading Travelers' Tales Tuscany: True Stories, in preparation. It's a lovely book I'd highly recommend. You may want to read it to revive the lovely memories.