Friday, July 21, 2017

The Other Side of the Notebook

I’m hoping to release my next book by the end of this year. This seems like a good time to check on my progress towards that goal. This is for me as much as anyone else. I took a break from writing for about three weeks. I had some volunteer commitments and a family vacation and… well, even those of us who work from home need a break now and then.

The first thing I had to do when I resumed work was to remind myself where I was. That meant flipping through the notebook, the current notebook.

I have a whole drawer full of notebooks from previous projects. Sometimes I enjoy looking through the old ones. I find arrows and crossed out pages and asterisks and notes in the margins and a generally complicated system for telling myself how everything should eventually be typed out. The only time I am not amused by the scribbles and notes is when I’m actually trying to decipher them.

Fortunately, the current notebook is fresh enough in my mind that I can remember why I wrote a seemingly random string of numbers across the top of a page. I read through a few pages here and there but mostly focused on the last chapter or two to reimmerse myself in the story. I can’t explain to others where I am without sharing details of the plot, but I can say that I have made it to the other side of the notebook.

Not every story starts at the beginning of a notebook. I try not to waste paper so I’ll usually start a story on the page after the last one ended. If I’m working on two (or more) projects at once, I’ll have two notebooks going at once. I remember one book that spanned four different notebooks because I was trying to use up several that I’d started. That was a fun one to type.

The current story did start a new notebook. I only use notebooks with the spiral on top. I write all the way through on one side, then turn the notebook over to write on all the backs of the pages. It always feels like a significant milestone when I turn over the notebook, especially if I know I’ve just filled an entire side. It’s also a bit of a distraction. Once I know there is writing on the other side, I’m constantly tempted to turn it over to see what was happening back there. If I’m far enough into a book that I can look back and see changes, then I know I’m making progress. There’s a baby in this story. He had a different name on the other side of the notebook. That probably means I’ll be done on time.

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