August 1st, 2007

woods, Elizabeth, camera, April

Driving, driving, over the rolling hills...

The drive from Tulsa to Collinsville was lovely, even though my feet swelled up as usual. 

Rolling countryside, mostly green, mostly rural...traffic not too heavy...plenty of time to think through the remaining revisions (ALMOST there...)   I would like to have had the time to get off I-44 and take some winding country roads, but even so it was lovely.

Missouri has a lot of incompetent rock...and hoe, some of you are no doubt wondering,  can a rock be incompetent?    Well, some rock is better at being rock than other rock.   A lot of the roadside rock in Missouri isn't very good at being rock, and is trying to return to its sedimentary origins (successfully, in some roadcuts that spill coarse sand from between weak strata.)  Its competent rock is lovely stuff, though.  I will have to find a big bookstore with "Roadside Geology of Missouri" (Texas was the first and now some other states have one.)  I also need to buy the eastern version of Butterflies Through Binoculars.

On the way yesterday  I saw butterflies (monarchs and dark swallowtails--everything else was too small to see while driving), one hawk, one great blue heron, several turkey buzzards, some small birds flying <???>, and familiar prairie grasses: big bluestem, switchgrass, Indiangrass.  Not much little bluestem.   There were only patches of the natives, but they really stood out.  Of wildflowers: basketflower, mallows in the marshy areas, a blue one that I think is European in origin, one whole field of ironweed, none under four feet tall and some six,  yellow sunflowers (two kinds at least),  smaller yellow compositae, and various things I didn't recognize. 

woods, Elizabeth, camera, April


On the way here I thought about the comments my editors and three friends had made on the remaining area of the book that needed reworking.  As each person told me what they found lacking, I was building up an image in my mind of what needed to be there instead...kind of like looking at the inside of a mold and seeing mentally what the molded shape would be.  (Yes, writers' minds are variously weird, and if you're not interested in how we do things, you might enjoy another post more.)

Last night I was too tired from the drive to work, but I woke early this morning and didn't even go down for breakfast--just grabbed a slice of bread and some water, laid out the chocolate (Dagoba's dark chocolate with chili bits and nibs), put on the head phones and Bach's Cantata 40, "Wachet auf ruft uns die Stimme" (Sleepers wake)  and Magnificat and dove into it.  Three hours later it was done.  It was as good a run of first-drafting as I've felt for a long time.  (Good first-drafting feels great while it's happening--it's all "flow", and for me a combination of the feeling of singing great music in concert and riding a course of fences without a hitch--in other words, negotiating complex difficulties smoothly.)  Would've been nice to get it out of the way last week, so I could go look at prairie, but what matters is it's done by the deadline.

For those who *are* interested in the process, and what it takes to do this job, here are a few datapoints.  I have had nothing but external difficulties for the past six months of this book--travel, illnesses, family crises, weather crises (from power outages and storms that required turning all the electronics off to multiple roof leaks during downpours--a 6 weeks almost daily problem), car crises, and finally the laptop I'd brought on this trip to work on the revisions had a major battery malfunction.  Had to borrow someone else's laptop, order a new battery for this and have it shipped to the hotel where I would be next....(hurray--it was there when I arrived.)

What makes a pro is that pros keep writing even when...even when the pro is sick, the kid is sick, the horse is sick, the spouse is sick, the car has a fatal diagnosis,  it's gorgeous outside, it's storming like h*ll outside,  the power goes out, the furnace quits, the roof leaks,  dinner catches fire,  the computer dies...(all this happened, and more, in the past six months...)   They keep writing, and they deliver  on time, in reasonable form (even if not always up to their best, if the crises gang up on them in a Perfect Storm formation.)   

This was not quite that bad...but it certainly pushed me very close to the wall, and I hope to stay about a third less stressed on the next ones.   And now it's done.  And I did it anyway, in spite of all that stuff.  HA!  (That's a happy HA!)  
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