Monday, September 13, 2010

The Fundamental Uselessness of Schedules

I just made out my schedule for the week. I keep it on a color-coded spreadsheet, and it always ends up being more of a guideline (in the Pirates of the Caribbean sense) than a hard and fast thing. What’s always depressing about it is how little time there is set aside for writing.

I have this problem often, actually. Left to my own devices, I find time to write. I don’t know how, but the writing always gets done. Not as often as I like, nor for as many hours as would seem to be necessary, but the writing always seems to get done. Two drafts of the novel in two years is a testament to the fact that I do write.

But when I actually sit down and put together a schedule, the very thing that should make me wonderfully efficient and result in my having a stress-free and focused week, all it seems to show me is the utter impossibility of my getting anything done. Douglas Adams probably would have written very wittily about this being a fundamental operating force of the universe, but I’m left with the depressing realization that there simply are not enough hours in the day.

Yes, there are gaps in the schedule that I’ve put together. I’m not booked solid from sunrise to sunset, but those gaps are usually in half hour increments. I’ve noted in a previous blog post that the first half hour of any activity sucks, so that usually means I’ll pass on trying to get anything meaningful done during those 30 minutes.

And yet…the writing gets done. Somehow.

And the writing is getting done. I’m finishing up my read-through of the second draft this week and am very happy with where the novel is. I’ve left myself lots of notes throughout the draft – there almost isn’t a page that doesn’t have blue ink on it and most pages have extensive notes ranging from questions like “What emotional shift does Matt make in this scene” to exercises I want myself to do like “List 10 things Matt’s feeling here and 10 physical actions that would show how he feels.” I rewrote some scenes while I was doing the read-through, even though I was trying to keep myself from doing that so I could move through the draft as quickly as possible. I’ve loved having a bound copy of the draft (my thesis) to read from while marking up a copy that’s in a binder and think I might do that in the future. The bound copy feels much more like reading a book and makes me think in terms of “is this were in a published book…” and be more merciless with my own words.

We were back in Reno this past weekend, which always helps get me thinking about Matt and the world of the novel. I found myself looking at the city many times and seeing it through Matt’s eyes and thinking how the space of the city relates to the structure and themes of the novel and how I can use the setting more fully.

My ETA on finishing the draft revisions is the end of this year/beginning of next, and then it’s onward to the agent search.

I’m sure I will still be struggling with my schedule and shaking my head as I complete the novel and wonder what fold in the space/time continuum allowed me to get it done.

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