General

The “Magnum Opus” Continued (I Hope)

We flew out of Faro, Portugal on Tuesday evening:

[Over England. Photo by me, June 12, 2019.]

I posted about our trip on Instagram, and also here and here.

We had, shall we say, a less than ordinary flight…

[Aboard our British Airways flight. Photo by me, June 11, 2019.]

We were in business class. (Due to Avios points!) It became a “spot the celebrity” experience.

[Aboard our British Airways flight. Photo by me, June 11, 2019.]

Among the passengers nearby was a BBC-TV News presenter (and she’s, uh, a bit shorter in person than I’d expected), and… uh, break out the 1950s/1960s: Sir Cliff Richard himself.

Having recovered from those “brushes with fame,” we are back at home:

And I’m back to writing more of the almost finished continuation of the “magnum opus.” Naturally, after some two years of effort, I hope it will be the “magnum opus II.” πŸ™‚

[Photo of my Microsoft Surface, taken June 13, 2019. None of that text existed 24 hours ago. Click to expand. Text Copyright Β© Me, 2019.]

Part of getting back into a routine as an author is “trawling” social media now and then. We do need breaks. (I also always ask myself: would Jane Austen, Tolstoy, or Fenimore Cooper, or others in the past have, uh, written nearly as much if they were doing so?πŸ˜‚) I happened on Instagram yesterday to notice another writer post on how carefully she stores drafts of her novels.

I don’t regularly print out, use marker pen, and revise by hand. From the very start, I type, type, type. I do most everything on a computer.

What I do is maintain a progression of the drafts on my PC (and safely uploaded to a cloud, in case my PC dies). I have by now probably hundreds of Word files, sorted by date, of all of my novels. (For example, Passports_10July2013 or Conventions_5October2016.) I save as a new date on those days I make important story additions/changes, and if I need/want to “roll back” to a previous version that is easily done.

So I don’t have reams of paper needing storage: stuffing boxes, jamming drawers, and filling shelves. I print out a draft (if I do) exactly ONCE – after writing the full novel. Then I read it start to finish (trying to read it as a reader who has never read it before), and mark up further changes by hand, and then I go back and make those changes on the latest computer version, under yet another new date.

[Conventions: The Garden At Paris, the ONLY paper draft, printed in January 2017… next to the latest electronic draft of the soon to be new book. Click to expand. Photo by me, Potton, England, June 13, 2019.]

However, so far that has NEVER proven to be THE END of it. After I make those changes from that single printed version, inevitably I find more changes are needed within the computer version. A couple of trusted others now get versions electronically to proof. And I still tinker and tinker…

I DO NOT print out any other copies. Indeed, above I have a paper full draft as you see of Conventions: The Garden at Paris which I printed in January 2017. It was shoved into a desk drawer and I had to dig around even to find it so it could serve as a prop for this post.

We all do this our own ways. If I even have any paper versions of Passports, Frontiers, or Distances (or the three novels in one huge volume in paperback), darned if I know where they are? If I do have them, they are in some attic box.

I may have even shredded them… which, for an historian, I guess makes me a terrible person and even a vandal. (That said, thinking about it now I may have a paper copy of Distances in a box in the Catskills, where I had finished writing it in 2015.) I just don’t see the value in several times printing out hundreds of pages (Conventions took me several HOURS to print double-sided), consuming (wasting?) an incredible amount of paper, and lots of (expensive) printer ink. I prefer to make revisions, and to keep a running “evolution” of the manuscripts, in electronic format.

After all, it’s not “1787” any longer… although in my recent books, it may look like I wish it was. But I will also admit this much: printing that ONE draft that ONE time is when I may FINALLY feel I have the book. Holding that pile of pages proves then and there that what I have done is not just a flat, “endless,” series of images on a machine. It is real.

Have a great weekend, wherever you are reading and writing in the world. Oh, and Happy Father’s Day, too. πŸ™‚

5 replies »

  1. Same! Ink is way too expensive. I even try to be frugal when printing from the college for the students. I’ve always detested clutter–makes me slightly claustrophobic–and printed anything adds feeds the piles. I actually have two shredders, lol. I am, however, obsessive about backing up and save to four different locations a bit extreme, I know. Hope you’re happy to be home after such a lovely trip and not yearning to still be traveling as I always am. P.S. by the way, let me guess. The chocolate mousse yes? πŸ™‚

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    • Ha! I hate printers; they are still as clunky (and the ink is just ridiculous) as they were in 1995! I see many writers edit pen in hand from print. Dear God, kill me. I can’t imagine doing much of that… and then having to rewrite it in the PC. Easiest just to stay on the PC. Yes, we miss PortugalπŸ‡΅πŸ‡Ή a lot – all it has done here is rain since Tuesday!πŸ˜œπŸ‡¬πŸ‡§The Mrs. was saying to me we need a France trip to buy some, uh, required foods and liquids. Not sure when we can though.πŸ€”

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