For the last five years, all of my work has been directed toward researching and expanding my material. But I’m finally turning the corner. A few days ago, having finished a rough outline for the last draft, I saw that it would be best at this point to go ahead and fine-tune it. So much has to go. The draft I’ve been working on, the second draft, stands at around 1000 manuscript pages, which is around 800 book pages. The final version is to be around 325 book pages. It can change, but that’s what I’ve always envisioned it coming in at. This is my favorite part of the work: crafting and compressing. I’m spending a few days reorienting my mind toward the new task and then getting on with it. I see around two more years of work ahead of me.
Archive for June, 2011
I have a habit of taking up a new interest and devoting myself to it so completely that I do little else—for years. I’ve done it with music, the Italian language, bicycles, the study of history. Invariably, I reach a point where I can’t go any farther with a particular study. I begin to feel that it isn’t essential to my life and so gradually I let go of it. I feel this happening with computers now. I started out with Windows around 1996, and switched to the Mac in around 2000. My first Mac had OS X, and I’ve upgraded to each new version as soon as it came out. Right now the Mac world is all excited about Lion, the new upgrade coming out in July. I’m not. I find that I don’t care at all. I doubt that I’ll bother with it. I’ve gotten deeply irritated with the belief that Apple is constantly pushing: that tech must be at the center of our lives. I would rather sit down and play my guitar than download a song from iTunes or stitch together a fake song from pre-recorded loops in Garage Band.
When I look out my window, I don’t see anybody. Everybody’s indoors. I keep thinking I should go outside, sit down, wait for some people to show up, and get into a conversation. Yesterday I went over the hill to the annual North Beach Street Fair where I sat down in a doorway and studied people as they walked by. After a while I realized that I was actually making some people nervous, which reminded me of the famous line from the Gregory Corso poem, “Power”:
Standing on a street corner waiting for no one is Power
From my living room window I can see two large American flags. One of the flags is on the roof of an apartment building on the north side of the hill and is visible along a long stretch of the waterfront, the heaviest tourist area in San Francisco. As soon as thes flag shows signs of wear, someone replaces it. The other flag is less obvious. It flies from the roof of a restaurant on the eastern side of the hill, a restaurant that has gone out of business. The only people who see it are locals and tourists walking the steps to Coit Tower. The pole got bent during a particularly heavy winter storm, and the flag is all tattered and tangled now. The pole changes position, now to the right, now to the left, depending on which way the wind is blowing. No one pays it any mind at all.
I’m still working on the outline. It’s going well, but there isn’t much to say about it. I should be finished in a couple of weeks. Then I resume work on the second draft, which I hope to finish by the end of the year. Right now I’m seeing a need to take a break between the second and third drafts. My brain is tired, and I get awfully cranky sometimes. I need to feel flush before I start up that final draft.
I’m taking a much-needed short break beginning tomorrow morning, when Judy and I leave for Lake Tahoe. Her birthday, our anniversary. The only time I’ve ever seen it was from the window of a jet.