I like to write.
In addition to this blog, I like to write poetry and music and fiction. Lately, it’s mostly fiction.
And writing fiction is fun, but damn it’s a lot of work.
That said, I did state that one of my goals for 2017 is to get some of this writing published. And since I’ve backed myself into a corner, there’s really nothing left to do but push forward with it.
I would like to get some writing published in 2017. I have one novel in the hopper ready to go, another almost done, and my NaNoWriMo novel to finish (it turns out that 50,000 words represented the first half of my story).
One interesting thing I’ve discovered is that the writing itself, while time-consuming, isn’t the difficult part. What struck me is that the blood, sweat, and other substances that hard work brings out of you really flow during the revisions.
In other words, for the book I am working on now, revising the sucker is taking forever. Or at least it feels that way, even if the math doesn’t make sense. Let me explain:
It took me ten months of writing, plugging away between work and family and travel, to finish my first draft, the final period put in place this past January. At 800 pages, it actually only represents the third-longest thing I’ve ever written.
If you’re into word count as a metric, Microsoft Word puts it at around 168,000 words. Please do not ask me for any more statistics.
Okay, here’s one more: Since January, I have edited, revised, rewritten, deleted, rearranged, polished, and spit-shone 211 of those pages.
It sounds like I’m moving at a pretty good clip right? And I am. But why does it feel like it’s ten times harder than writing the damn thing in the first place?
It’s all relative, and at this rate I should be done with my second draft in a month. But let me tell you, the level of effort required to refine this book is intense.
But as I go through this second-pass at my book, a word keeps bouncing in my mind, a word that seems to perfectly encapsulate what I am doing and, most importantly, why.
That word is CRAFTSMANSHIP.
Recall, if you will, that I wrote about my growing disinterest in professional sports not too long ago. But just because I’m not watching sports on a regular basis doesn’t mean I can’t admire great athletes and the lessons that they teach.
One of my sports heroes is actually a thinker who just so happened to be really tall and ended up playing basketball: Boston Celtics legend Bill Russell.
Mr. Russell is an incredibly interesting man. While he was not the first black athlete drafted in the NBA (that would be Chuck Cooper, drafted by, ahem, the Boston Celtics in 1950), Russell broke many other color barriers, including being the first black coach in NBA history–a role he performed while also playing.
But Russell isn’t famous only for his civil rights work. He is also famous for being one of the most successful winners in sports history: In the 13 seasons he played, he won 11 championships, including an unmatched run of 8 in a row. He also completely revolutionized the game of basketball, single-handedly changing the way the game was played, particularly on defense.
He was also a damn good scorer and gobbled up a hell of a lot of rebounds.
Anyway, as if the guy wasn’t gifted enough, Bill Russell is also smart as hell. He’s well-known among basketball fans as being one of the smartest people ever to play the game. Seriously, he’s like a basketball philosopher-cum-scientist who can dissect the game in ways you never thought possible.
But more germane for our purposes, he is adept at relating the game of basketball and the lessons he learned playing it to life. Continue reading “Even Michaelangelo Got the Blues: What Bill Russell Taught Me About Craftsmanship”