Whew. It’s been a bit quiet around here lately, eh? Sorry about that. My week has been, as they say in the business world, front-loaded. And I have chores galore to finish out the week, leading up to the crown jewel of our Fellowship experience:
Yes, it’s an all-expense-paid trip to Buenos Aires! (Cue wild applause.)
We leave in a week. You are permitted to be envious. The almanac reports it’s summer there, or nearly so.
But there’s still a little time left. Monday night was my last screenwriting class, rescheduled from Wednesday so our teacher could go do a “Lord of the Rings” press trip. We had to turn in our completed second act, and I did so. For you non-screenwriters, the second act is pretty much the whole movie, so it’s about 90 percent done. I still can’t believe I did it — there’s a certain Cletus-like joy in regarding this big thick stack of paper, thinking I wrote that thing! The mop-up will be done in the last 10 to 15 pages. I’m not saying it’s good, but it still feels like a huge accomplishment.
One of the seductive things — not in a good way — about newspaper work (and blogging) is this: At the end of the day, it’s done. You write a few hundred words, file, and go home. There are projects reporters who nurse single stories through months of research, but even those are rarely more than a few thousand words. Daily journalism isn’t terribly taxing work, and you can make a so-so living at it, and after a while the thought of actually writing something longer-form, like a book — 90,000 words or so — can be utterly terrifying. Yes, a book is written a day at a time, and frequently authors aren’t nearly as productive, on a day-to-day basis, as even average reporters, but still: A book. You have to have a beginning, a middle and an end. You have to have a plot. You have to have characters. You have to have arcs. You have to pull the reader along. If you have any self-doubt, you can be sunk before you raise your sails.
It’s so much easier to stick to the who-what-where inverted pyramid lead, or a 600-word column, and call it a day at quittin’ time.
So just to finish this thing, not a book but a long-form fictional story — written in 10 weeks, one sweat-soaked page at a time — will be heady stuff. It’ll make the trip to South America that much more celebratory. And the opportunities for celebration look pretty cool. Tango, rare beef, polo, good cheap wine. These are a few of my favorite things. Yowzah.
But I’ll be here for a few more days. In the meantime, if you have any BA tourism tips, send them along.