Sporadic update on Birdland

Canelli wrote about accountability last week, and I’m here to say I need some accountability, too.  I thought I could do a chapter a month, but going into the end of the semester, things got a little wacky in class and it killed my interest in writing for a few weeks.  And those weeks have put me way back on my schedule now.

Currently I’m working on chapter 4 (of the originally planned 12).  It’s been touch-and-go the past few weeks what with the holidays and my purchase of Civilization VI.  Once I got going on it, I had to rewrite parts and reimagine how other parts would work.  Now I’m humming on it, maybe about 100 words a day, and need about 2,000-3,000 words to finish that chapter.  No prob.  It’ll definitely be finished before the next semester starts on January 10th.

But here’s the weird thing about my writing process: I like writing everything in order, beginning to ending, no matter how much better I know how  the ending will work than I know the beginning.  And that’s what’s happening right now: I know very well what’s supposed to happen in chapter 5, better than what I’m currently writing in chapter 4, but I’m not skipping ahead.  I’m going to start chapter 5 only once I’ve finished chapter 4.  The bad side of that is it creates a bottleneck in my writing.  The good side of this is I think I can have chapter 5 written in just a couple weeks.

But, again, that bad side.  I know how the final third of the book should go, but the middle third is now in flux.  After my last workshop in the fall, the feedback really made me think I need to take a completely different direction in what I had planned.  Instead of Black Dynamite, I should to do more Clue.  This middle third starts with chapter 6, and that’ll be the third chapter I turn in for my spring workshop class.  But after that, if I haven’t figured the rest out, the final three chapters, which I know as well as I know chapter 5, will go completely unwritten.  One chapter a month is way too ambitious, and I think that if I can get to chapter 9 by this time next year, that’ll be an accomplishment—and that’s not even considering how many more chapters I’ll need to expand it out to finish it (13, 14, 15 chapters?).

So here’s my plea for accountability.  Without workshop deadlines, my writing objectives start to float around.  I gotta buckle down on this.  I just gotta.


1 Comment

  1. Luigus

    Break this self-imposed habit (not need) of writing in order. Write whatever you know might fit in the overall narrative and see what emerges from there. You’ll probably find a more effective order that way, instead of this one you’re trying to impose on the story. That type of control is what will likely kill it, or at least continue to halt it. If there are parts of the story that are already alive right now, pay attention to them and move with them. I imagine they’ll give you clearer direction and inspiration. (Basically, be more of a madman. Work from abundance. Experiment. Life is discovered in error.)


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