Ream Envy as Motivational Prod

Posted: May 2, 2010 in Uncategorized

Patrick Rothfuss, who wrote the very fine fantasy novel The Name of the Wind has been working on the sequel, The Wise Man’s Fear for several years. He just posted at the end of last month that he had finished the draft he was sending to his editor. Here it is:

two of Patrick Rothfuss' children

Two of Patrick Rothfuss' children.

Seriously, as soon as you can pull your eyes away from the adorable child (photographed for size comparison) take a look at that manuscript! I mean, seriously, how many reams of paper is that thing?

Upon gazing upon that phallic wood pulp stack, I was immediately seized by frantic, desperate envy. I want to write one of those. I want to write the flakking Lord of the Rings. I want to write my own Proustian epic.

Now, this isn’t the first time I’ve pondered writing a Great Pulp Novel (the reasons for not writing a Great American Novel made up the first draft of this blogpost, but was deleted because it took me, like, ten paragraphs to get to the point of today’s rant, which in this draft, only takes me six and a picture.) I know what it’s about, I know how I want to do it, et cetera, et cetera. “You just have to sit down and write it, Doug,” say the million voices of friends, family, writing books, internal monologue, and my imaginary friend Spider.

So, do lets.

Writing Priority One of the May Project will be the embarking of the epic novel. If, as many suspect, April was the onset of midlife crisis, that’s an indication that if I want to do something incredible, now is the time to get it started. As soon as I’ve got a chance to spend a few bucks, I’m going to get a nice little out-box to start stacking pages. No more word count here, we’re going to measure by manuscript height. (No, I lie, we’re so going to be keeping a word count. You and me both.) I’ve got sixty-three pages of outtakes and fifteen pages of legitimate manuscript from back in January. We’ll be starting there and moving up.

“How,” I hear you cry. “Just plugging ahead blindly hasn’t worked before, has it?” Well, no. But after years of living with myself, I do know two things about my writing (other than its digressive nature): (a) I write 984% faster when I have a deadline, and (b) I write 849% better when I have an audience. That’s why, as I posted on Facebook the other day, I’m going to start by recruiting a few Readers and a few Naggers.

“And what are those?” you ask, hardly having realized that you’ve somehow become a character in this blogpost, spewing forth expository questions against your will. Well, the job of the Naggers will be to keep me accountable to a reasonable word/page count. Since life is annoyingly random, and time management is dodgy at best with two boys, an overworking wife and a nasty case of ADD rattling around in my head, we’re going to be working towards weekly goals. I tried this in January on my own and it worked pretty well for the ten days before I ended up in the hospital, effectively derailing my positive momentum. Once I’ve got a few people signed up, I’ll give you a week and a goal and set you to riding my ass about getting that goal met.

The Readers, on the other hand, will have a more pleasant but more work-intensive job. They’ll be the ones recharging my batteries by reading my output. At these early stages, it’s going to be mostly casual reading… no editing or heavy commentary, just “here’s what I liked,” and “so tell me more about…” stuff. I don’t want contentless feedback, but we’re still doing early draft work, so no line editing… keep the stuff macro.

“Um, what about that other novel you have ninety-five percent finished? The Nine Dead Suns project from November 2008?”

Look, when I gave you dialogue, I was kind of hoping to keep things focused on the new project. Sigh. Well, since you asked, I’ll put that on the Readers’ plate as well. I need a bit of push there, and maybe the May Project Readers can help with that too.

Anyway, that’s where we’re starting, writingwise. I will write a stack of paper. It shall be mine.

Tomorrow: What does the May Project have to do with those two lovely boys who bring such joy to your family life? Oh, if only they knew…

  1. MHPayne says:

    I will happily:

    Both read and nag if you’re allowing folks to wear multiple hats. ‘Cause if, as I believe Monkey Pool has proven, ev’rything’s more fun with a hat, then think how much more fun it’ll be with two hats!


  2. Kasheri says:

    Step on Spider!!!!

  3. MHPayne says:

    You gotta watch out:

    For them spiders, Kasheri. Some of ’em might turn out to be fairies. I mean, if you’re a talking animal person living in a certain webcomic I could mention…

    Mike Again

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