Book vs Shed

We have four Nigerian Dwarf goats named Willy, Whoopie Pie, Aurora, and Canela. I promised to build them a shed this spring and began construction in May. I also made a New Year's resolution to publish Coffee Smuggler in 2014. Both projects have progressed in spurts and the idea of comparing them dawned on me yesterday.

First I had to make a sturdy floor and give the shed good bones. Likewise, I made major structure improvements to Coffee Smuggler this year, axing several chapters that diverted attention from the plot and rewriting the first chapters.

I built the walls and began working on the shed roof. Then I got stuck and took a long break during July and August. I left the shed under tarps ostensibly because life was busy in other areas but really because I wasn't motivated at that time. I have done the same for Coffee Smuggler several times since I began it in 2009, unmotivated to work on it without deadlines or pressure.  There have been stretches of 6 months or more when I didn't even open the Coffee Smuggler file.

Both projects now have real deadlines and I'm racing ahead, making major breakthroughs. It feels great, however as they both draw nearer to conclusion, they are competing for time as much as complementing each other. One is an intellectual endeavor, the other a manual one, and both require arduous patience and consistency. When hours are spent focused on them, without multitasking, I make real progress but now they vie for the same hours.

My goat shed roof is now almost complete and I've edited 130 pages of my 197 page 10th draft manuscript (which will be around to 300 pages in book form). The shed roof requires careful measurement, cutting, and delicate ladder work as I balance aloft to screw things into place. The manuscript requires analytic review of every word in each sentence and thought about how the facts align and story flows.

The shed needs to be insulated and topped with slate shingles (I scored these slightly chipped slates for free off an 1864 colonial in Yarmouth receiving a new roof). The book needs the paper editing finished, changes added to the digital manuscript, illustrations added, cover pages and bibliography compiled, and text formatted. Then I must submit the finished product for publication in paperback, hardcover, and e-book formats.

The deadlines are converging. Willy, Canela, Whoopie Pie and Aurora need their new home ready before it gets too cold and I need to launch the book in November. I need to finalize both projects in the next two weeks. Both projects have been much improved by help from others. I've been learning as I go on both, watching the character of each evolve into an entity apart from myself. Both have taught me a lot. Both projects are ultimately something I have to do alone, something I'm proud of, and hopefully something that will serve their purposes well. The book will entertain and educate; the shed will be a goat palace.

I feel lucky to have 51 backers pledging $2,815 so far. This provides me with wind in my editing sails, and motivates me to make this book the best it can be- and fast. As my editor declared, "You have got to do this. You cannot be lazy." Thank you for your support, it's helping me rush towards a finish line that I'm beginning to see more clearly.

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Dave Holman

Posted on September 21, 2014 .