In a recent post, I announced I’m writing a book about my two months teaching in El Salvador. I was tempted to say “Trying to write” but I’m working on cutting down my qualifiers and hedging. Think positive thoughts, right?
I said I’d finished the first draft. I turned journal entries, pictures, and research into a cohesive narrative. It is book-length, just shy of 100,000 words. It needs to be shortened. I’d like to lose 15,000 words. I’ve heard it’s better to have too much material. It allows you to make your writing more concise. It’s not so good to be short on material.
I thought I had found all my journal entries. I wrote most notes on my phone between classes at school. I used the Notes app on my iPhone. Then I emailed them to myself and put them in a Word document. Each day was a separate document. When I opened the file with my journal entries, there was one for each day.
Well, almost. I knew I’d missed a few days. I found a few journal entries in Notes that I’d never converted to a Word document. I included those in the draft. There were still a few days missing. I did my best to recreate them or left them out of the story. At a hundred thousand words, does anyone really want to read more? When the first draft was finished, I’d worked around the missing days.
Then this week, I used the Voice Memo app on my phone. I hardly ever use it. I scrolled through the old files and found two recordings marked with dates I’d been in El Salvador. I listened to just the beginning of each. They were journal entries I’d made by dictating them rather than writing them. I believe I did it because I was pressed for time. Then I forgot about them. It was almost five years ago.
I still haven’t listened to them. I put that off until I reach those parts of the story as I continue to work on the second draft. Maybe, there is some bit of gold that has to be in the story. And maybe not.
In recent months, I haven’t been as active on WP. I’ve posted on only on weekends. Sometimes not even then. A few people asked if everything was okay. Sometimes, I alluded to being engaged in other creative projects. I was vague on the details. This is the reveal.
Two weeks ago, I finished the first draft of a memoir about the summer I taught in El Salvador. I kept a journal while there. My intention was to try to write a book. I made several false starts. Then last November, I committed to writing a page a day for thirty days. After the month was over, I couldn’t stop.
Converting my notes and pictures into a full-length text wasn’t easy. I’m now working on a second draft. Someone said that the purpose of a second draft is to make it look like you knew what you were doing when you wrote your first draft. There is a lot of truth to that. I’m crafting the this draft into something that someone would want to read. It is a slow and tedious process. I just show up each day and try to push the project along a bit more. I also have a lot to learn about the publishing world.
The working title is A Different Latitude. It’s a play on the name of the blog I published while in El Salvador. I plan to resurrect that blog. Updates on the progress of the book will be posted both here and there.