I really thought my online expedition would do the trick.
At least once or twice a day, I get an email from Road Scholar. This is a company that leads tour groups all over the world. One of the differences between Road Scholar and other tour companies is that Road Scholar is all about education. They don’t just show you the animals—they tell you what they are and lots of information about them. You may also learn about the history of the region where you’re traveling. For a certain species of geek (me), this is a ton of fun.
In late winter, I received an email for an online expedition to the Arctic. Four days, three hours per day, plus lists of reference materials and suggested reading.
By this point, I was painfully aware that despite my internet research, I knew practically nothing about the Arctic. When you’re writing a book set largely at the North Pole, this can be problematic. After all, it’s not realistic to assume that the characters will never go outside, so what will they see? What birds and animals will be around? Also, what will they eat? It’s not as though they’re going to be having chicken and pork since they don’t have pigs and chickens, so what will the menu look like?
Somewhat unbelievably, I did it. In spite of major personal challenges that offered me every reason in the world to quit—or simply not to start in the first place—I finished this year’s #1000wordsofsummer challenge.
What a difference a day makes. Yesterday, the temperature was in the mid-eighties, and I had the air conditioner on as I wrote inside. Today, it’s 64F plus a periodic strong breeze. I’m back to writing on the porch, but this time I’m wearing a sweatshirt and my tea has long since gone cold.
Ah, well. The writing is coming, and that’s what counts.
I instituted summer hours today. My plan for the summer is to shut down the office at 2:30 on Fridays. It’s nearly impossible to find people on Friday afternoon in the summer anyway, and inevitably I end up leaving messages for clients and their staff that nobody’s going to listen to until Monday, so why not join the crowd?
So far today, I’ve talked with a lawyer whose opposing counsel thinks jurisdiction doesn’t matter (spoiler: it does) and learned that I might need to quarantine after the friend with whom I had dinner last night tested positive on her home test for covid this morning. On the upside, she tested negative on the rapid test at the walk-in. Since she had a false positive a few weeks ago, and false positives are extremely rare, it’s been suggested that she might have gotten a corrupted batch of tests. So she got a PCR test as a tie-breaker. We’re awaiting the results with crossed fingers.
If it hadn’t been for this challenge, I probably wouldn’t have written today.
I have a lot of work to do. I lost most of yesterday afternoon at the doctor’s, including going back again when the x-ray technician called to tell me she hadn’t realized she was supposed to take additional images.
One reason I rarely write to a word count is that I tend to edit, especially an earlier day’s material. It’s still productivity, but it doesn’t lend itself to a challenge like this.
Take today, for example. I wrote for over an hour, adding and revising, but I also deleted a lot of what I’d dictated a few weeks ago because what I was writing today was clearer and worked better. By the time I excised all the crap that needed to go, I ended up with a net loss of 70 words.
My original plan for this final day of the #1,000WordsofSummer challenge was to write another 1,000 words in my novel, but that’s not what I’m doing.
Instead, my final 1,000 words will be directed to you, the wonderful folks who have accompanied me on this journey. (This means that my post will be a bit longer than usual, but I’m trusting you to handle it.)
It helped that I didn’t wait until the wee hours to write, because I’m still exhausted. It’s been a big day in a few ways. I didn’t do a lot of the things on my list, but I did some that came up unexpectedly, plus a few (like mowing the lawn) that I just didn’t want hanging over my head all weekend.
In the law, we often criticize the opposing party’s position by arguing that they’re elevating form over substance. In other words, they’re too concerned about how something is to be done, rather than focusing on the purpose of what’s to be accomplished.