This week has been incredibly productive, book-wise. I’ve drafted two and a half more chapters, bringing my total chapter count to seven and a half out of fifteen chapters. I’m halfway done with the rough draft of the book! Woo hoo hoo!
That’s the good news. The bad news is that the bulk of the work will be in the revisions, so even after I finish the rough draft, I’ll really just be starting. The chapters aren’t consistent in style and tone; that will require edits. The ordering of topics and chapters isn’t totally clear in my mind, so things will need to be shuffled around. And a ton of other structural and content issues will need to be fixed before I can start polishing the prose. It reminds me of a passage from Annie Dillard’s The Writing Life:
How fondly I recall thinking, in the old days, that to write you needed paper, pen, and a lap. How appalled I was to discover that, in order to write so much as a sonnet, you need a warehouse. You can easily get so confused writing a thirty-page chapter that in order to make an outline for the second draft, you have to rent a hall. I have often “written” with the mechanical aid of a twenty-foot conference table. You lay your pages along the table’s edge and pace out the work. You walk along the rows; you weed bits, move bits, and dig out bits, bent over the rows with full hands like a gardener. After a couple of hours, you have taken an exceedingly dull nine-mile hike. You go home and soak your feet.
I don’t feel quite as overwhelmed as Dillard apparently did, but I do think there are a lot of challenges ahead – the most difficult one being getting the structure and sequence of topics correct. I don’t think a simple outline will do – I’ve got one of those already. The problem is much more nuanced – do I put the section on working in series in this chapter, or in a different one? I have three logical ways to arrange ideas throughout the chapters – which do I choose?
Some of these problems may be solvable using Scrivener, which is great software for organizing and rearranging bits of writing. (Many writers I know swear by it.) But I think I need a more holistic overview than I’m likely to get on a computer screen. So, after I finish my first draft, I’m going to resort to my favorite trick. I’m known at work as “The Post-It Queen” because I love using sticky notes on a whiteboard to brainstorm and organize ideas. It’s quick to set up, it’s easy to add or remove items, and you can connect the dots using a whiteboard marker. So I think I’ll bring plenty of Post-Its to my retreat in January, so I can examine the structure of the book across one entire wall of the cottage. It’s the modern equivalent of Annie Dillard’s twenty-foot conference table.
Chocolates-wise, I have received the larger candy boxes, and am delighted to note that I can now fit 32 standard-sized chocolates into the boxes – sixteen in each layer, plus two smaller ones in the corners of each layer. Like this:
So that means I should be able to fit all 32 flavors of chocolates plus the five kinds of chocolate covered candied citrus peels into the box. (I am firmly squelching the urge to see if I can fit in just one more flavor.)
Chocolatiering-wise, I’m waiting impatiently for the weekend. Saturday morning starts the grand chocolate adventure, with three kinds of caramels and four kinds of fudge:
- Ginger lime chile peanut caramels
- Lavender salt caramels
- Cranberry-orange caramels
- Coconut almond fudge
- Coconut tequila lime fudge
- Chocolate macadamia fudge
- Lemon lavender white chocolate fudge
The ginger lime chile peanut caramels will be dipped in chocolate and topped with chopped peanuts, and the coconut almond fudge will be dipped in chocolate and topped with a toasted almond to make the world’s best Almond Joy. (It’s so much better, though, that there is really no comparison.) The lavender salt caramels and the cranberry-orange caramels will also be dipped in chocolate.
I’m looking forward to starting the chocolate adventure!
Meanwhile, in cat-land, Ms. Tigress has discovered new toys. She’s always loved vegetables – you may recall this lovely pastoral scene from last spring:
Well, now she’s discovered that shelling beans are even more amazing toys than asparagus! Not only are they the perfect size and length to carry around, but if you play with them enough, more cat toys (the beans) fall out! Ecstasy!
Here’s Tigress at play. Isn’t she adorable?