Marching orders

backlit daisies

There are a lot of new directives in my life these days, all to a good and healthy end. And so I thought to myself, if everything is on a timeline and I’m to be so disciplined, I’ve got to do the same with my novel manuscript.

Truth be told, I’ve been revising rewriting my novel-in-progress like it’s a day at the spa–with languid leisure. A page here, a page there. An occasional chapter. When I’ve come across a bump in plot or character, I let the mystery wash over me and then when the uncertainty became too uncomfortable, I’d go do something other than write, something other than stick to my chair and computer screen.

Writing has been a daily part of my life, but the great urgency I felt after my stroke (as only a brush with death can achieve) to finish a draft of my novel-in-progress, the very thing that got me to finish a draft, has been languishing for some time.

But I am now once again writing with exigency. Because I have to finish a major rewrite of this novel by the end of 2012. Because if I don’t finish a major rewrite, I’ll have deep regrets, and any discomfort I feel now as I navigate the interstitial spaces of my novel is going to be nowhere near the pain I’ll feel next year when I look at a half-finished novel revision.

I am the slowest writer I know. Writing with urgency for me means muscling through the pain and making a deep commitment to stick with my manuscript even if tomorrow is another day. It means I am still a slow writer. It does not mean writing two thousand words a day, because for me, five hundred words a day is a good writing day. But I know I can and will do it.

So I’m making it public: I’m finishing a major rewrite of this novel by year-end. That gives me about seven months, which I think is completely doable, even at my elephantine writing pace.


Filed under Novel, Revision, Writing

5 responses to “Marching orders

  1. Alvin

    I’m a super slow writer, too. I’m always amazed that people can write a thousand words in an hour. For me, 500 a day is a job well done.

    Anyway, go, Christine! I believe in you~~

  2. My best part is the re-writing… I like going through what i wrote and smooth the rough edges… and as for leaving when the plot hits a wall, that’s the best thing to do… not so many authors know how important to give time for your subconscious to do the thinking for you while you do something else. Because the best ideas originate from the subconscious, since our conscious is too busy with our reality.
    Best of luck with your work… may it find its way to my shelves.

  3. I realize that Ann Arbor, Michigan may be a land far away for you but there is a great novel revision workshop being led by Margo Rabb here in just a few weeks. Check it out at or just read Margo’s description of the workshop: “This class aims to take the sprawling beasts that are our novel drafts and whip them into semi-behaved, structured beings. Each class will include discussions about the essential elements of novel writing, including theme, character, and plot; we’ll use writing exercises and worksheets to develop the parts of our novels that need work. Each participant will leave the class with a road map for a full-scale revision of their work; for students that have a partial manuscript complete, the map will guide you toward finishing your book. Participants are asked to submit a one-page summary of their novel, and to bring this summary, as well as a pack of multi-colored index cards, to the class.”

  4. Nate

    Our guy Graham Greene was a 300/day writer (if memory serves.) My guess is that was his goal and not necessarily his avg output, as he was about as prolific as they come. Regardless, the lesson there is about butt to seat & fingers to keys. Kudos on the goal, get after it!

    • @Alvin: thank you for believing!
      @ahamin: You are wise. I too am a big believer in allowing the subconscious space to work things out. Now it’s time to write it out. 🙂
      @gatster: that workshop looks amazing! revision is such a black box to many writers.
      @Nate: butt to seat, now.

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