02 November 2011

A Page A Day

 by Robert Lopresti

A while back we had some new friends over for dinner and when they found out that I write fiction  one of them said "But how do you find time?"

I gave my usual answer, with a shrug: "If you write a page a day at the end of the year you have a novel."

Which satisfied my guests, but I knew it was facile and disingenuous (which are two wonderful words, but not such wonderful things to be).  Because the fact of the matter is that if you write a page a day at the end of the year  what you have is 365 pages.  There exist, I have been assured, people who start on page 1 of a book and when they finish the first draft have something ready to send to the publisher.  So I have heard and I assume it is true, but boy, it's not the way things work in my world.

Leaving aside the question of rewriting (a big question as far as I am concerned), writing in small doses I find it hard to keep the plot and especially the mood together. I generally try to write a first draft in a rush, dumping my brain on the page as fast as possible, knowing I will have to rewrite every sentence, but trying to getting it on the page as close to my insipration as possible.  Of course, that's easier to do with a short story than a novel.

I am currently working on a novelette and am taking advantage of the only consistent free slot in my schedule: my lunch hour.  So that means I have been writing about a page a day after my bowl of mixed veggies.  (Today is an exception since I am writing this instead.)

I have written the beginning and end of the story and am now working on the part that interests me least: the second act.  I  know that when I tie the two ends together I won't have anything that is ready for a publisher.  Whether it can be beaten into shape, I cannot yet tell.  Ask me again in a year or so.

And don't get me started on yesterday's joyful event when, after twenty minutes of pushing nouns and verbs uphill, Windows decided it was time for an update and restarted my computer.   No, I hadn't saved anything.

Okay.  There's always another lunch hour.  Fortunately no editor is eagerly awaiting this particular publication.  And I guess that's a good thing, huh?


  1. Rob, time to write gets better after retirement, but there are still days when I have to juggle time. I could have written your blog today (though probably not as well) because everything you said fits me also. I write first chapter, last chapter, then fill in the gaps with knowledge that I'll "fix it up" when it's done.

  2. there's nothing like writing every day to train the sub-conscious!

  3. I hear you, Rob. I write in "chunks" myself, but often think I'd do better if I could just lock myself in my office for a week or ten, sometimes. Alas, my wife is horrified by the idea, and insists I come out for air when the kids get home from school. And, today, they have only a half-day!

    Good luck on the new venture!

  4. Rob, I'm on day two of my retirement and staring at gobs of time. In fact, I started a new story today in order to stave off the sudden fear that I won't be able to write anymore now that I actually have the time. Too much, too little...it's always something!

    Good post, and good luck with that novelette!

  5. I think I must be obsessive… I write like a maniac until I can't stand it any more and then veg until the next manic writing cycle starts. Bah!

  6. Great books aren't written they're re-written. (I wish I'd said that!)


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