I’ve assembled a schedule to get me to the end of Viral Times, the novel project of my past six years. Two hours a day, five days a week, three or four chapters. Taking a carving knife to 129,000 words. Not so bad, if you look at science fiction standards, where 120K is the top end. I always wanted to start at the top, after all.

It’s especially educational to revise writing that you penned more than four years ago. Talk about a cooling off period…

Chapter 25 is now complete, with 22 more to go in about six weeks. I’m in the oldest material now, one of the five attempted starts to the book. (It’s finally got a prologue, so there’s no doubt where it begins.)

The good news is that the writing to come will get easier to revise, because it’s fresher. If there’s a shiny center to this cloud of words, it might be in seeing how much my craft has grown up. A funny thing to consider, growing up, when you’re already past 50.

“You just have to take it bird by bird, buddy.” That’s the advice that Annie Lamott’s dad gave her brother, who had procrastinated on a school paper about birds. In Bird by Bird the boy had dozens of books on the table and it was time to finish. For me, too. There’s another, newer book, about a much older time, waiting inside.

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