Murdering My Darlings
I have a lousy work ethic when it comes to writing. Teaching and grading, that I can do. Hell, I find time to blog almost everyday. But when it comes time to sit down and work on something like, say, "the book"... Well, I can always find a million other things that need to get done. That's why I'm really pleased that, lately, I've been a bit more productive. I currently have four essays out under review at various magazines-- one, in fact, that just got finished a couple weeks ago. And more importantly, I've done some pretty substantial revisions and edits to the book, turning it from a 225 page memoir that most who read it felt passionately "meh" about into a 147-page essay collection that-- hopefully-- readers will feel passionately "meh!" about.
(I try not to be too lofty in my goals).
Anyway, interestingly enough, during this brutal revision process, I started thinking of an essay I wrote about seven or eight years ago, an essay that might fit thematically with the book's new direction-- with some pretty significant revisions, of course. I was an unpublished, no-talent little dork when I wrote the essay, after all. And now I'm a published, little-talent big dork. The manuscript should reflect this newfound wisdom.
So you can imagine my surprise when I sat down and discovered that much of the revisions I had been thinking about were already in the manuscript. Somehow, a lot of the changes that I'd been thinking about while contemplating the essay as I remembered it had already been made. In fact, the essay had a spiffy new beginning that invoked Vladimir Nabokov, and an ending that mentioned Emily. How could that be? This essay was written years before Emily and I even met!
At first, I thought maybe my typing helper monkey had anticipated my renewed interest in the old essay, and also had anticipated what was going to need to be fixed. But that didn't make sense-- Emily and I killed and ate the typing helper monkey for our last meat-based meal months ago. So I'm forced to conclude that I made these changes myself. I probably started thinking about this essay the last time I seriously revised this book, but then forgot about this piece as I allowed myself to get distracted from the task of getting the book done (that's the drawback of the whole "shitty work ethic" thing).
So this was a pleasant surprise. There's still more work to be done on it, of course, but it's like the muse just vomited-up an entire essay into my hard drive. Pretty nifty. Even niftier, though, is that I learned a new word reading this new version of the essay-- chronophobe. Like, someone who's afraid of time (or time's inevitable passing). I like this word. At some point, I guess I knew this word-- 'cause I looked it up, and chronophobia is a real fear.
So, like, damn, you know?