Good news with a note of caution. I finished the rough of this installment over the weekend. The caution? It’s way too long, weighing in at 40+ pages. That length makes it hard for me to focus adequately on some things that are both important and (I hope) interesting. It’s also asking a lot of you as a reader to wade through that much material in a more or less single sitting.
More good news: I have a solution to my conundrum. I’m going to split the single installment into two Chapters of about equal length.
I think this solution has several advantages. First and perhaps most obvious is that it’s easier on you as a reader. As any of you who’ve exchanged more than a few emails with me know all too well, concision doesn’t come naturally to me. I tend to be very undisciplined and tangential if I’m given free rein. That’s probably fine in an email, which I view as more like a conversation anyway. It’s not fine in a story – If I ramble in a conversation, you can tell me to either get to the point or shut up. If I ramble in the story, you can’t tell me to shut up, but you can do something even worse from my perspective: stop reading. So it behooves me to exercise some discipline in my writing. When I’m writing the first draft of a chapter, I tend to hold the rein just tight enough to keep me from frolicking in the pasture, chasing bumblebees and butterflies. From then on, a sort of ruthless self-discipline kicks in. That way, you don’t have to chase bumblebees and butterflies with me.
A second advantage is that I can avoid facing a Hobbs’ Choice of sorts, having to explore one idea or the other, not both. This is especially important in this chapter. There are two areas of concern I want to explore, which are actually two sides of the same coin. By splitting things in two, I can delve into both without – I hope – losing you in the process, and actually make the underlying story thread more interesting.
A third advantage is simple. I can give you two chapters in relatively quick succession. For one time at least, there won’t be a two month wait between installments; two weeks will be more like it.
Now that I’ve made that decision, and I’ve finished the first draft, it’s time for me to get back to the work of actually revising the thing. As soon as it’s done and it’s been reviewed and proofread by my editor, and passed muster with my wife, the new, slimmer and trimmer Chapter 13 will be offered up. I won’t make a more concrete prediction about when it will be done than to say, “Soon, very soon.”