Kennedy's 'Postcards from
Ahead of the game?
Jonal entry 967 | Friday, April 7, 2006
It feels as though I've forgotten something as I'm seldom done more than a few hours before a deadline, but at least for now the book project you've been hearing about for months now is up to date and I'm a couple of days ahead of my projected schedule. So I'll check in and in the interest of letting the creative juices have a chance to get flowing again, just chat a little.
The book project has gone through several phases. The first, once the "go-ahead" came through from the publisher in November, entailed 10 weeks of writing and researching, researching and writing, trying to get 20 chapters and 85,000 words done in 10 weeks. I tried so hard I had almost 100,000 words in the 10 weeks. Then there were two phases of editing, one called "technical," when an expert I'd never heard of before went over the manuscript to try to poke holes in it. The most painful thing was deciding which criticisms he made were valid, in my opinion, and which I was going to fight against, and there was a lot of both. But looking back it was at least an educational exercise.
Then there were several weeks of huddling among the editors back east while they decided the next phase. That one was the one just finished, trying to excise about 15,000 words without destroying any of the chapters. I got down to about only 4,000 extra words and the project editor told me that I could stop there, they would recommend the remainder of places to cut and run them by me before making any radical changes. That's where we are now.
You may have noticed I'm reticent to be very specific about the details of this project because, back in the 1970's I was involved in an earlier project in which I produced nearly 900 pages of a book manuscript, only to have the project abandoned by the publisher because, at the time, President Carter's approval ratings were going into the tank. It's a too long and not interesting enough story to tell in more detail, except to say the publisher apparently thought that without an evangelical in the White House there wouldn't be a market for the evangelical book I had produced. But I learned not to count my chickens before they're hatched, as Mom used to say. And as Herman Sedloff used to say, "You learn."
As I'm now about the same age Herman Sedloff (the founder and lontime publisher of the Nanty Glo Journal) was when I heard him say that more than once, I marvel at how gradual that process of learning is. How long it takes to learn some lessons, and the fact that the process doesn't slow down as you age. There is some truth in the images of the older generation being wiser and wizened (which means shriveled, but people use it because it sounds like more than that). I've learned much more, for example, in the writing of the current book than I could have imagined when beginning, and more than I could impart through even 100,000 words.
And yet...it seems like I've just begun.