Monday, May 07, 2007


As winter has crossfaded into spring, a mural has taken shape on a retaining wall that holds up one corner of the track outside the athletic center at the university I'm employed by. I walk by it in the morning and evening five days-a-week, and I've watched it take shape over the course of the last several months. At first, it looked horrible and amateurish, closer to graffiti than art. However, over time, each portion has been slowly filled in and out, and the aesthetic value of the piece has increased with every change.

This is the metaphor I've hit upon for my method of working. I start out with what I call "an outline in draft form." The first version is usually weak, but I get it out. I get out what happens and who is involved. I get down the lines of it, the equivalent of an artist's rough sketch, and then go back, from the top, and fill it in and out. And that's where the interesting stuff happens.

There were those who thought, when I decided to enter the contest at, that I was making a huge mistake, but I still disagree. I needed that deadline to get me to stop diddling around with individual words and phrases and start roughing out the last quarter of the book. And I did that. Now, I can go back over each chapter that needs revision and redo it the right way, having taken some time away to give me some perspective as a whole. It brought me back to the method of working that suits me best. And I have a completed draft to shop while I'm revising.

On another topic, I worked on it on Saturday as well. The new, improved chapter 11 is coming along nicely.