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The ten thousand things and the one true only.

by Kip Manley

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Nine stitches saved.

I did mean to publish this here, two weeks after I published it there. One loses track of such things, one puts them off, one comes back to them eventually. Pretend, for a moment, it’s December; pretend, for a moment, the world isn’t burning; pretend—

So Thanksgiving morning I metaphorically put down the metaphorical pen: the first draft of no. 31, “ – marble sends regards – ”, was complete, at 22,675 words. —As of this morning, one week later, it’s down to about 20,000 words. Only a couple thousand more to cut?

I know I’ve said it before, “this one is different,” but, you know, this one is different. I wasn’t writing to a specific outline; I just, I knew where I was starting out, I knew where I needed to end up, and I just headed off in that direction, stopping here or there to see what I might along the way. So the first draft meanders a bit, there’s some flailing as I try to figure out what this bit’s about, or that one’s doing, or when I suddenly realize what the whole thing needs to have done already. Revision this time round mostly involves stitching those later revelations more neatly into the flow and structure of the thing, which is dimly interesting, I suppose, in that I usually front-load scenes with detail that must be pushed back, held off, removed—I’m not sure that’s making much sense, actually, outside of my head. Apologies. It’s still terribly early here. —I’ve jokingly referred to this as my Klein-bottle episode, but that’s another joke that might not make much sense in an outside voice. —Still early. I’ve had more coffee, though.

I said I wasn’t writing to a specific outline: that’s not entirely true. The first words I wrote for this draft were twelve words: six opening, well, not lines, per se, but:

The body.
The water.
The sun.
The air.
Those teeth.
The light.

So there’s that.

(Also, I’ve gotten rid of the yellow stripes. They weren’t doing anything you’d miss.)

Insofar as end-of-year what-have-we-done musings go, it’s mostly regret and chagrin. No. 30 took entirely too long to write, and no. 31 took a bit longer to write than I’d like, in general, but I’d always known it would.

There’s also the essay, half-started, that glares at me from another text-editing window: on some of the stuff roiled up by no. 31, stuff that’s been pressing pretty much since no. 2: about, among other things, the whiteness of Portland, and the whiteness of urban fantasy, and when it’s anywhere near being done you’ll be the first to see it. But it’s not. —So.

(I don’t mind a bit of regret and chagrin: like bitters in a good cocktail, they add a bit of savor and depth—but one would hardly wish to drink them straight. Look ahead, look ahead!) So! Two more numbers to write next year, and a book design to overhaul, and a third book to assemble, proof, and get to market. —More immediately: you should be seeing no. 31 in a few weeks here, just before the close of the year.

So. I should probably get back to that.

(Thanks again, so much, to all of you.)

—posted 128 days ago


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