The first draft called for free writing – getting ideas out of my head and into documents, with little scrutiny. I let the creative juices flow. My first draft was unreadable, and that’s what I had expected it to be. Oh, it contained some nice passages here and there, but I wouldn’t show it to anybody.
In the second draft I concentrated on making the text more reader friendly. I minimized use of passive voice (replaced the glasses were filled with Mitchell filled the glasses). Because adverb-verb pairings bore the reader, I substituted more interesting verbs (replaced ran fast with dashed). Good writing avoids overused words, so I searched the document for a list including: very, that, just, almost, really, etc. Perhaps most importantly, I looked for opportunities to identify bland passages and bring them to life.
At the end of the second draft I find myself with 34 chapters, about 95,000 words. This will produce a book of about 350 pages. That feels right.
So, what’s next? Obviously, the third draft. I’ll continue to look for the same things I did in my second draft. In addition, I’ll contemplate big picture issues such as theme, pace, structure, and more.
I have a compelling story to share, and I show flashes of writing ability, but it will take a lot of work to make this publishing-ready. I don’t want anyone to read the book because they know me, and they feel obligated. Instead, I hope people will sample or purchase this book because it is well marketed and has positive reviews. Ideally, they will keep reading this book because they can’t put it down. When they finish they will wish it had been longer, not shorter. I look forward to comments like, “I enjoyed the book, and it made me think about things differently.” I'll continue improving the manuscript until I feel it meets these criteria. I'm in no hurry.
My friend and local author Joe Souza helped me improve the all important opening chapter. My friends at the Portland Writers Group are still giving me outstanding feedback, and I will involve other folks as the project moves along.
In my February announcement I asked readers to submit ideas for the title. The majority suggested the book title be the same as this blog. But I wanted a subtitle, and you gave me some great suggestions. Here are my top choices so far, but I’m not convinced the perfect title is in this list yet:
Enjoying the Ride: A Story of Mutual Suffering and Shared Resilience
Enjoying the Ride: A Mother and Son’s Mutual Suffering and Shared Resilience
Enjoying the Ride: A Family Adapted
Enjoying the Ride: A Mother and Son Adapted
Enjoying the Ride: The Story of a Second-Generation Quadriplegic
Enjoying the Ride: The Courageous Story of Mother and Son Quadriplegics
Enjoying the Ride: Holding It Together When Everything Is Falling Apart
For those of you who missed the first post, here is my synopsis of the book:
Paralysis can strike without warning – one moment you’re a dynamic and independent person and the next, a quadriplegic. That’s what happened to my late mother when she crushed her cervical spinal cord at the age of 35. But sometimes paralysis chips away at your movements, a tiny bit every day, until you become locked inside the useless shell of a body. That’s what has been happening to me since the age of 38 when an aggressive form of MS began to ravage my cervical spinal cord – at an eerily similar location to my mother’s injury. Although we followed different paths, we ended up at the same place.
In a straightforward, irreverent, and hopefully inspirational manner, I tell the story of a mother and son’s mutual suffering and shared resilience. I revisit a childhood growing up with my extraordinary mother then take the reader on a journey through more than a decade of my adult life spent battling primary progressive MS.
My mother prepared me for challenges we could never have imagined I would face. And through the writing process I grew closer to her by finding new meaning in the legacy she left behind.
I’ll keep you updated!