Best laid plans often go awry

Best laid plans often go awry

Whoever churned out that nugget of wisdom was a genius rivaling Eintein. My best laid plans included finishing three writing projects before devotingmy time, energy, and future first-born child to the rough draft of “Northcoast Shakedown.” And yes, they went awry. April Fools Day came and went with a long, fannish tome called “Disappear” heading into what promised to be a lengthy third act, while a writing club needed an intro to kick off May’s round-robin assignment. Then there’s Nick Kepler’s little run-in with La Cosa Nostra, sitting on my hard drive since December, waiting for a rewrite. What’s a boy to do? Well, obviously, the first two projects need to be completed.

The first is so much creative deadweight if left unfinished, despite the fact that it will never see the printed page beyond someone downloading it from Usenet and reading it off line. To leave it will simply taint everything else I do until I get back to it. So I press on, 1000 words a day, 2000 on weekends, but short days being sacrificed. The second is time sensitive, and is more a matter of keeping one’s word than bogging down anything else I’m writing. So, it, too, will be squeezed out like so much literary toothpaste. As for Nicky’s adventures with the wiseguys, it can wait. There are three out there in the ether now, with a fourth one awaiting a yea or nay from an editor. No loss there.

But, Jim, one asks, what about the book? What about “Northcoast Shakedown”?  What about the hours and hours…

OK, OK, I get the picture! And I have the solution.

Long hand.

Yep. You heard me. Long hand. Take a pen, a piece of paper, and start scribbling. It was good enough for Dickens. It was good enough for Twain.  And besides, you can take pad and pen anywhere. Even a laptop can be a challenge at times. (And if anyone out there can do a short story on their iPad, let alone a novel, I’d like to shake your hand. You’re more of a masochist than I am.) There is a drawback to this form of getting the story out.

After years of using a typewriter (Yes, I’m just barely old enough to have used one in high school), then a word processor, and finally, a keyboard, my writing hand no longer likes to spend two hours curled around a pen, scribbling. What used to be a chore – peckng keys all day at the office – has now become blessed relief. (Especially if you used those curved keyboards the evil overlords in Redmond make as one of the few good deeds they’ve done for humanity. But then trains ran on time in Germany and the USSR, didn’t they?).

Still, it’s interesting, and forces me to watch what I’m doing more closely. After all, no one likes to scribble heiroglyphics for two-to-four hours on end, then have to scratch 2/3 of it out. Especially if you get writer’s cramp. I did one scene last night, the first scene in Chapter 1. I don’t think I’m going to go with Robert Parker’s habit of recent years, making each scene an independent chapter. Then again, Parker’s word count is much more sparse these days. It’s all in the styling. I think, in the process, I drove the Mrs. up a tree when I constantly interrupted her with questions about life insurance policies and fraud on the application and… I give too much away. More soon from the battlefield. If my wrist holds out.

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