Whew! It’s nearly 4:00 PM, and I made my deadline an hour ago. Then I celebrated with a round of disc golf. I don’t know what my final score was, because my brain was too busy saying “The book is done! The book is done!” to bother remembering strokes.
Actually, “done” would be stretching the truth. The first draft is done. That’s huge, because it means I’ve said everything I want to say. Now I’ll do what I always do with a long piece of work: let it cool for several days, then give it a full read-through, then say everything again, only better. Second and third drafts are usually where I come up with a lot of ideas for adding humor into the mix.
My primary tool for writing isn’t a computer. It’s a recorder, for a couple of reasons. The recorder allows me to “write” while commuting to Nashville. Most writing time is actually thinking time, and I find it easy to think in a car. Back in the day, I wrote most of my new standup material by dictating during long road trips.
I use the recorder first even when I’m at home and could type on the computer. As I learned the hard way when I first tried doing standup, written English and spoken English are related, but not the same. If you’ve ever heard someone give a speech that sounded like a term paper read aloud, you know what I mean. Natural speech has a different rhythm. When I was a journalism major, the broadcast news professor insisted we learn to write TV copy by using what he called the “Hey, Joe, Didja Know” method. Turn to an imaginary person and tell him the story. Then write that down. Otherwise, you’ll probably write copy that looks fine on paper but sounds clunky spoken aloud.
This is a book, which of course means people will be reading it. But it’s a book for kids, so I want the text to read almost like someone talking. We also plan to produce a companion DVD, so I figured I may as well put the language in a to-be-heard format from the beginning.
We’ve got a loooong way to go to finish the entire project. Chareva has a ton of cartoons and graphics to draw, plus she’s learning InDesign so she can design the book. I haven’t used After Effects or other animation software in years, so I need to seriously upgrade my skillset and learn the latest version.
But the first draft is done. That’s the best birthday present I’ve given myself since the Fat Head premiere party on my 50th.
And now it’s time for my annual indulgence in pizza-with-everything and a few craft beers. I’m pretty sure I deserve it.