Wednesday, May 14, 2008

On Writing, Focus, and Finishing the Book

The contemporary writer for whom I have the greatest admiration is my friend Keith Raffel. The author of the highly acclaimed mystery, Dot Dead, Keith is a Harvard Law School graduate with a successful career as a Silicon Valley technology executive behind him. Not only is Keith a great writer, he's a genuinely nice guy.

Keith Raffel

Which brings me to my topic.

Keith is also a very focused guy. When he's writing a book, he writes it until it's finished. Then he's on to the next.

Beginning to end, it took him over ten years to finish Dot Dead, but that was a part time effort. His next book, the soon to be published Two Graves, he knocked out in a little more than a year.

For those of you who've been following my writing, you know that I finished the first draft of my Civil War novel, Fort Desperate, almost two years ago. It's still an unfinished project, though I must say I think it's a much better book now than it was two years ago. I've dropped several secondary characters, added two new characters, and substantially changed elements of the last half of the book.

Still, it's a work in progress, and it's unfinished status nags at me.

Along the way, as readers of this blog may recall, I wrote and self published the Christian apologetics work Letter to an Atheist, whose primary audience appears to be militant atheists looking for Christian apologetics books they can purchase, not read, and write negative reviews about on Amazon.

I also began another project, the Abrahamic Small Groups book, which started with energy and enthusiasm, but has now transformed itself into two longer term projects, the completion of which now move to the tail end of my writing queue.

My friend Keith would probably advise me to focus on Fort Desperate and finish the book as my top priority.

Good advice.

I don't think I'm going to follow it.

Instead, I've devised a writing schedule that divides the week into three distinct time periods for writing.

One time period is devoted to Fort Desperate.

A second time period is devoted to editing my father's memoirs: Principal Without a Diploma: A Memoir of Growing Up in Depression Era Quebec and Coming to America.

And the third time period is devoted to a small project that will focus on the intersection of belief, public policy, and politics.

Any of my writing friends or reading friends out there in blogland are welcome to weigh in on the wisdom of this approach.

1 comment:

Keith Raffel said...

Gee, Mike. You'd better get out and meet more writers!