dayjob / publishing / writing

Crash Writing (*Now in Real Time!)

A few days ago I agreed to write a crash freelance project. It is due next week, ideally Monday, but I asked for Wednesday to give myself a cushion in case I completely fall apart and start writing in tongues. The book will be 48 pages, but it will have photos, and it is an adaptation of something that already exists, so it’s not as bad as all that. This is possible. This is what freelance writers do, especially when they need cash for a new apartment. I am not crazy for saying yes. I am not going to mess up. I can do this this, I want this, I’m talking out loud to myself now, oh great. Really, I can do this. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah—I hope so.

Those ellipses above are me taking a pause between writing that introductary freak-out paragraph and this one. In that time—shown by the three little dots—I wrote 1 page. Huzzah, a page! Oh, and also I am getting a cold and sneezed appoximately 12 times. So, with this pace in mind, and with sheer devotion and breaks only to eat and sleep, I can finish this in, um, 45 hours and 540 sneezes. Wait. That doesn’t sound right.

UPDATE: About 4 o’clock, only on page 13, but tissues in good supply. How long do you think that line for coffee is, hmm?

4:51 pm: Page 14, head swimming, will make my way through the wind & ice home, try to write on the couch. Plus E is making soup!

And later: Stalled for the night; will reconvene tomorrow morning.

And the next morning: On page 18. So that’s, what?, just 30 more pages to go?

12:30 pm, Sunday: Just now hit page 22. Slowly, slowly it’s coming… Will someone bring me lunch?

Little bit later: Page 26. Just remembered protein bar in backpack. Think it’s two o’clock. Thoughts come only in staccato.

3:20 pm: Stuck on a sentence. I’m just sitting here, in the middle of the sentence, looking at it, knowing I have to shove some words in there. It’s an odd in-between place, the gaping middle of an unfinished sentence. I mean, where do I go from here? Oh yeah, I’m on page 27, but if I finish this sentence I can be on page 28.

3:23 pm: Did it. It took like 7 words. God, I’m pathetic.

3:43 pm: I just want to interrupt myself to say that I’m amazed at how long this takes—writing. Sometimes it floors me how many hours I’m at it and I look at the clock and I’ve only gotten this far? I AM ONLY ON PAGE 29, for real? I could bake a cake faster. I mean I can’t even really cook, but if I followed the recipe the thing would be half-eaten by now and I’d have crumbs all over my face.

3:44 pm: If you haven’t noticed, I think about food quite often.

4:39 pm: Talking about time moving quickly, a whole hour has passed. Now I’m on page 30. But in that time I wasn’t entirely working on page 29. Oh, I had page 29 open and I was making little spurts of attempts to work on it, but I got to playing around on Wikipedia, too, and I read all about Jonestown because there was a documentary about it on the History Channel last night—and I should say that this project is in no way related to Jonestown—and I look up at the clock and it says 4:39. Perfect example of how wasteful I am when it comes to time. In addition, as an aside, my fingers are very cold and that’s not helping with the typing.

5:02 pm: You know when you’re done but you can’t be done so you keep going? That’s where I am right now.

5:39 pm: I’m cheating. I’m a big fat cheater. I’ve moved ahead into the empty pages past page 30, just trying to note the events in order, plan out what I’ve got to do. Soon I will walk home. On my mind is the ticking of the clock and—if you must know—a great desire for homemade macaroni and cheese.

6:01 pm: Must. Leave. Building. I cannot sit in this chair any longer. I’ll find a new chair, at home, and sit in that. I haven’t given up for the night just yet!

7:09 pm: I am home. I am not writing. I am TALKING about writing. I am PRETENDING that I am going to write by putting the pages I am using for reference beside me and gazing at them absently. Soon I will pick up the pen (the keyboard) and start on the next page. Either that or I will eat dinner, which is tofu and broccoli in apple-sauce sauce over that good fluffy white rice, which I’m sure has a more technical name, but E’s the one cooking so he would know.

Early, early Monday morning: I’m back… still going…

9:30 am: Gotta head to work. On page 39… It’s going to be a long night tonight.

6 thoughts on “Crash Writing (*Now in Real Time!)

  1. Sounds like the kind of situation where I do my best writing! I’m also better at night. I wish I had something to write. I love to write but can’t seem to get it done without an expressed purpose and a deadline.

  2. Thanks for the encouragement, Yojo and Heather! I sure do need it. And Adam, I wish it felt like a good push the way you describe. Right now it doesn’t feel like writing, it just feels like work!

  3. Wow, this is a treat. I mean, I don’t wish crash projects on anybody, but I love your play-by-play. Forty-eight pages doesn’t seem like a lot, does it, but when when you get to typing… Wikipedia, television, the need to stretch muscles, to eat, to drink—you’re drawn to all that like a magnet. Anyway, I’ll stop my note right here so you can stop reading and get back to work! Go go go!

  4. You’ll get there! Good luck. I really wish I could like, imbed the theme to Chariots of Fire or Rocky in this comment because you will totally make it and then it will be over before you know it (and everyone should have those themes on hand for times like these).

    Oh, I had page 29 open and I was making little spurts of attempts to work on it, but I got to playing around on Wikipedia, too, and I read all about Jonestown because there was a documentary about it on the History Channel last night…

    Last night, when I was supposed to be writing, I got to thinking about venemous snakes (I don’t even know WHY, I’m not writing about them…) and I think I wasted an hour reading about the most lethal snakes ever. I got halfway through it before I had a “WHAT AM I DOING?!” moment. A few nights before that, it was Grebes. I feel your pain. Wikipedia is so wonderfully evil.

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