|(First Draft, that is)|
Just turned the first draft of my memoir over to my editor, all 652 pages, double-spaced. Next comes the rewrite while Stacey is getting quotes for cover design and printing.
For me, and I expect, for many serious writers, the art and craft required in good writing can produce bittersweet emotions. I felt guilt while walking my dog, working out at the gym, or cleaning the bathroom, while aware that I was really doing so to postpone my difficulty in outlining the next part of my narrative or describing a specific setting. Akin to that is the frustration involved in remembering clearly a past occurrence and the characters involved, yet describing it in words which will provide the reader with the same experience I had. A good example of this was narrating an event which occurred in Dayton in 1971. I was set up to be the honored guest at a party attended by several hundred people, while posing as a Russian diplomat from the Soviet Union's Los Angeles consulate. This episode involved several locales and my interaction with a British con man, a deadheading TWA flight engineer and many minor characters.
Another vexing experience I occasionally encountered was the painful act of deleting a part which--after rereading--either doesn't seem to move the book along properly, or isn't likely to interest the reader that much. Often, these "deletes" may consist of more than a thousand words and several hours of writing. I must confess though, that some hoarding instinct has prompted me to move my deletes to a separate file for possible reconsideration.
But there's also the positive feelings I've experienced; like thinking of a smooth transition in a part that I'm writing as I'm doing something so routine as cutting the grass or driving to the store. The satisfaction of completing one's intended writing project, no matter how brief or lengthy--as long as it's done well--is pleasing to any writer.
I started this book in earnest two years ago, at age 75, and am already contemplating writing another. Hopefully, I'll be an inspiration to some of you in your fifties and beyond to begin your writing venture.