With the rough draft of the first book of the trilogy completed, I met with my editor/writing coach, Alida Winternheimer.  I always glean great insights from our conversations.  My first question involved the next steps.  I needed to know all about the “revision” process.  We both chuckled.  Alida and I know how analytical I am.

As an aside, during the creation of the rough draft, Alida would ask for samples.  I would submit a chapter that I had, in my mind, definitely nailed.  The edits would come back.  Some comments were positive, but most indicated areas of improvement.  An edit “2 by 4” was listed next to one paragraph.  Curious, I wondered what it meant.  Alida politely explained, “You are hitting the reader over the head with a two by four board.”  In other words, too much detail.  I responded with a laugh since my two vocations involved law and investment management where every detail mattered.  With a simple edit, Alida had demonstrated my greatest weakness.  Hopefully, as I “revision”, I will leave more to the imagination.

Alida advised one approach to “revision” involved printing out the entire book.  To accomplish this, I purchased an additional black cartridge for my printer.  Then she instructed me to read the draft like a novel.  Make notes on the sides of the pages, such as where holes exist in the story, where things don’t make sense, where 2 by 4’s exist.  Then go back and rewrite.  She cautioned that once you find one hole or change, it could lead to others.  Finally, she told me I should allow the story to rest and not write for thirty days.

So this month I attempted to unwind, but like an itch that begs to be scratched, I found it hard to let go.  I didn’t write, but I thought about timelines, book titles, characters, and storylines.  I also began to develop scenes in my head for the second and third books.

Toward the end of the month, I found myself sitting in a store located in the former meatpacking district of NYC.  The slaughterhouses containing bloody meat hanging from large hooks had been replaced with trendy shops.  The merchandise now hung from a more petite apparatus.  I sat watching patrons as my spouse and daughter browsed.  A large man dressed in black, jeans and a t-shirt, paced the floor with a cell phone attached to his ear.  He repeated “yeah” rapidly like a machine gun in a deep base voice.  The room breathed a sigh of relief when he finally terminated the call.  He joined his wife nodding his head or softly asking if he should purchase an item.  Then I noticed.  Throughout these various exchanges, the expression on his face never changed.  Deadpan in every instance.  I quickly typed a note on my phone. The emotionless man. What a great character he could make for the next book!

Technically I failed to unwind. I couldn’t help myself. I really wanted to rest, but I kept thinking about the novel. As the comedian, Flip Wilson stated on the Ed Sullivan show in 1970: “The devil made me do it!” Attached is a link to Wilson’s routine. Enjoy!

“Copy and paste” or “click on” the following link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0SLifea3NHQ

1 Comment

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One response to ““IDLE HANDS ARE THE DEVIL’S…”

  1. Hey, Mark, congratulations on finishing the rough draft! A true milestone. I recognize your “itch” to write — last week, Michele had her hip replaced, which meant a week before of driving to doctors and appointments to prepare, four days in Spokane, and now I’m Nurse Bill. So I haven’t had a moment to open the word processor, and I’ve got the itch too! But perhaps your month is up and you can dive back in!


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