Progress Report #94

It’s been awhile since I’ve done one of these. I have to say that, right now, progress is slow. A while back I saw myself zooming forward, marching boldly through the final draft. But it hasn’t happened that way. I’ve suffered through a couple of ailments in recent months, first a severe cold and then a bad back problem. I’m fine now and working, but progress is, as I say, slow. There are two reasons for this. I find the beginning the most difficult part (and I’m speaking of the beginning of the last draft). Everything has to be set up just so and you have to find your voice. I’m working out all the issues. I’m seeing what Street Song wants to be, beyond my own ideas for it. Books make their own demands. The second reason is that I’ve been working on this thing for eight years now. I still have no contract (My agent hasn’t started looking for one yet) and I feel like I’m swimming across an ocean with no land in sight. It’s disorienting and exhausting. I swim and swim and it’s hard to see my progress. What have I completed? A preface, Chapters One and Two, and two completed chapters from the middle of the book, which, realistically, will change once I work my way up to them. (These were written as samples for the proposal that my agent will take around to publishers.) I’m working sequentially now. I’m currently about halfway through Chapter Three. I also have a completed outline that may change some as I work my way through. What I need is to gather my energies and really get down to business. I’ve had too many distractions lately. A real deadline (i.e. a contract) would help immensely. But that will come in its own time.

Writing a book is hard. It’s crazy-making. But I will finish it.



8 Responses to “Progress Report #94”

  1. Tim Mueller Says:

    It will happen.

  2. Patricia. Says:

    I am exhausted reading how hard this seems to be!!! I write, but certainly not a book to be published. Good luck to you!!!

  3. Kate Says:

    Here’s a carrot from me to dangle in front of you—I am eagerly awaiting your book! 🙂 I hope that’s a good deadline.

  4. Sarah Says:

    “When I’m writing, I like to gain distance from my work so I can tell how it will strike a reader who is seeing it for the first time. I do this through a trick I devised while I was living in Savannah writing Midnight — I would call my apartment in New York, the answering machine would pick up, I’d read the page of text I’d just written, then I’d hang up. A minute later, I’d call my apartment again and listen to the “message.” Hearing my own voice reading the page over the phone — my voice having traveled 1800 miles (900 each way ) — gave me just the detached perspective I needed.

    “On occasion, while I was working on Falling Angels, I used the same technique, ridiculous though it may sound; in this case the calls were from Venice to New York rather than from Savannah. Gay Talese says he achieves a similar detachment by tacking pages to the opposite wall and then reading them through binoculars. Whatever works.”

    and …

    “My number-one hobby, my preferred means of unwinding, and my most often-used route of escape are all the same: reading. Nothing takes me out of myself faster or more completely than a good read. It relieves stress, lifts me out of a funk, and makes me feel I’m doing something worthwhile.

    — John Berendt, author of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (excerpted from a bio in

  5. Deborah Says:

    You can do it – I see it!

    • markbittner Says:

      This is a reply to everyone who has commented here (and thank you for your support). Quitting is not an option. At every level. It’s just damn hard, that’s all.

  6. Margaret Benbow Says:

    I’ve heard writing a book described as “fighting the lion.” If you keep showing up, no matter what fear and exhaustion you feel, and keep giving it your best, you’ll come through on the other side. The book will be written, and well-written. Because that lion will give up, but you never will.

    • markbittner Says:

      That’s been my working assumption. And faith. It’s impossible for me not to finish, for lots of reasons. I would like it to be an engaging, uplifting process, but I often wonder if that’s possible with a book.

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