Coming up for air

It's been more than a month since I last posted here because I've been writing the first draft of a new crime novel. Finished it yesterday, so I get to pop up out my gopher hole and take a look around.

When I'm working on the first draft of a story, I try to go fast to take advantage of the creative flow. I set daily goals for myself (usually 10 pages) and hit the mark nearly every day. As I get close to the end of a book, I tend to go faster, writing 15-20 pages a day. Those pages usually need more rewrite later.

Rewrite is the down side to this technique. First draft is fun. It's throwing paint at the canvas. Revision tends to be a long slog, especially the way I do it, going over a manuscript a dozen times or more before I hand it over to my agent. The first draft takes six weeks. The entire process takes six to eight months.

Part of the process is not looking at the manuscript at all, and that's where I am right now. I have to let it "cool" before I start revising and, if there's time, between each revision. Fresh eyes make such a difference.

During these pauses, I catch up the household chores and other work that's been hanging while I was off playing with my imaginary friends. That includes this blog (har) and some of the promotional stuff I'm always putting off. Also, I try to get out of the house a little.

This weekend, I'll be in beautiful Silver City, NM, for the Southwest Festival of the Written Word. First year for this downtown festival, and they've got lots of big-name authors from southern New Mexico, Arizona and Texas giving talks and signing books. Admission is free.

Also this week, I'm attending a big homecoming gathering for past staff members of the Daily Lobo, the student newspaper at the University of New Mexico. I didn't attend UNM, of course, but my wife Kelly was once editor of the Daily Lobo, and I've worked with lots of Lobo alumni. I'm looking forward to seeing some old familiar faces.

The class on American humorists that I'm teaching at UNM's Honors College this semester is lots of fun and the students are terrific. Just approved for next semester is my Become a Better Writer class. I'm on campus only one day a week for these classes, so it leaves lots of time for writing. And rewriting.