Saturday, August 02, 2008

Making connections

I've finished the separate sections of my big writing project (hurrah!), so this weekend my task is to suture the sections together. I've always been comfortable writing short pieces--as a journalist, I did my best work in the 800-1000 word range--so the only way I can write a longer project is to break it up into smaller chunks and then connect them, a process that always produces new insight. I haven't even looked at the earlier sections in weeks, so it'll be interesting to see how ideas have developed over time and to discover new links among them.

But as much as I'll enjoy assembling the various sections into one big wad of wonderful (I hope) writing, what I really look forward to is finishing. I've had a long, hard slog of reading and writing all summer long, and I'm ready to hit the "save" button and close the file. Years ago I received a simple but excellent piece of advice from a senior faculty member successful in publishing: "Finish things." There's no better feeling than to slide that finished work into an envelope and send it into someone else's lap for a while, and even if it gets rejected, at least for a time it's not my problem any more.

The second-best piece of advice came from the same source: "Turn off the television." It works! But I confess that once I hit the "save" button for the last time, I'm planning to treat myself to a DVD marathon and watch all the things I've missed since May, one after the other, until I'm giddy from overdosing on popular culture.

Until then, the only sound you will hear will be my fingers flying across the keyboard, boldly connecting where no connections have gone before, or something like that.

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