what is that bright light in the sky?

Oh, right, the sun. Yeeeah. It didn’t rain today, for the first time in 8 days. I can’t remember when I last saw the sun, but it was definitely more than 8 days ago. It seemed so bright this morning when I was walking down to my favorite writing cafe that I felt like some kind of nocturnal animal accidently awakened in the daytime. Weird. Also, in all of the dark, grey and rain, I hadn’t noticed that the leaves have begun to turn. In place of the rain, we now have wind: great, gusty bursts that are rattling the leaves loose from the trees and knocking things over.

Yesterday I actually did my first real revision to the book. I revised Chapter 1. It doesn’t sound like much of a feat, but it is for me. I hate, hate, hate revising. The fact that I just avoid doing any revisions may be the worst habit I have when it comes to my writing. I mean, when I am writing something, I go over it many many times, refining and reworking. I read it aloud, and make changes as I do. I print it out, mark it up and then make alterations based on the marks. Sometimes I even print it out, cut it into paragraph- or section-length pieces and then rearrange it on the floor. When it works, I go back to my computer and rearrange there. These are all great habits, but they only happen when I am begun working on a piece. When I think I cannot do anymore to said piece, I am done. I just don’t want to look at the thing anymore.

Clearly, this is not a successful strategy when writing a book. Or if you want to get anything out of the multi-thousand dollar writing workshops offered in MFA programs. Or if you want to get published.

So, I did it. I took all the feedback I got from my Nonfiction Book class and used that to rework the piece. I am going to turn it in again, this time to my other workshop. Yes, it’s double-dipping, but I am so pressed for time that I needed to do it this time. And it’s good to revise now, since all of the material will have to be revised by Feb. 1, when I have to turn in a draft of my thesis.

By revising yesterday, I was able to make some serious progress today on a later chapter. I don’t know exactly what chapter it is at the moment, maybe 5? or 6? It was two separate chapters that weren’t working on their own, but I had the brilliant idea of combining them today, and now it’s a nice, working 14 page piece. It’s got a way to go, but I’m feeling pretty good about it.

I was sort of cranky about my Nonfiction Book professor’s desire for us to turn in 18-20 page chapters every time, because I thought my chapters weren’t going to be that long. But it turns out that 18-20 pages is a great chapter length, and when I push my chapters to become that long, they get better. Plus, adding an 18-20 page chapter to your page count is much more satisfying than adding a 10-pager or a 15-pager: I’m up to 89 pages now. Wheehoo!

Some tidbits:
No. of movies watched this weekend: Two. No, four. One, really. I saw “Wallace and Grommit: Revenge of the Were-Rabbit” yesterday in the theater. Very funny. Very pun-y, actually. Cute movie. Then, last night, after I could read nor write no more, I watched “As Good As it Gets.” During the commercials, I flipped to “Steel Magnolias” on another channel. But I didn’t watch the end, since I didn’t want to get sucked into the tear-jerkerness of it. I’m not a huge fan of that movie, but I think Shirley Mclaine is kind of funny in it. Then, tonight, while I was having my usual dinner/early evening break from schoolwork, I watched most of “Runaway Bride.” I really don’t even like that movie either, but there it was. Ok, I admit to liking the part where Julia Roberts’ character comes to NY and proposes to Richard Gere and gives him the big, cheesy, romantic speech. I am sappy. I also like the Maryland scenery. What can I say?

No. of books I am reading now: Three. Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man, by James Weldon Johnson, An American Requiem, by…I don’t remember. And, In Cold Blood (again) by Truman Capote. A blockbuster week.

No. of ice creams in my freezer: Two. Haagen Dazs light vanilla (so-so) and Brigham’s Vanilla with Oreo Cookies. Now that’s a tasty ice cream.

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