Tuesday, May 05, 2009

2 > 3

By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

Reading. Writing. Music.

That describes the majority of my waking life since I returned from Argentina. The music has been non-stop since the moment I wake up until I go to bed. Lots of writing music. Background. Melodies. Inspiration. I spent a significant amount of time listening to Dylan while I wrote the second draft. I've been listening to a ton of New Mastersounds, Phish, and the Grateful Dead.

I found out that the Grateful Dead channel on Sirius was broadcasting one of the concerts from Philly. I checked it out and signed up for a free three-day trial. I listened to the show while I wrote and played online poker. Since I had a three-day trial, I took advantage of the system and listened to the Jam-On and Dead station non-stop. I didn't like the Jazz stations and was a bit disappointed with the selections at the times I was tuning in.

The reading? Every morning at the coffeeshop for at least thirty minutes, sometimes up to an hour. I read a couple more chapters of Mr. Nice. I'm digging Howard Mark's smuggling stories about running hash from Pakistan > Germany > London.

Ah, yes... I've been spending a significant time handcuffed to my laptop. The first draft of Lost Vegas was late a couple of days. And the second draft was late a couple of weeks mainly for three reasons... 1) the first draft was late which meant that I was already behind schedule... 2) I went to Argentina on a last minute's notice for a work assignment and lost a week... 3) My progress was slowed down in an attempt to kick the pills.

Even with those three obstacles, the second draft was completed before the WSOP began. Now, I have roughly two weeks to squeeze in as much of a re-write and third draft. Otherwise, it's getting shelved for at least 10 weeks while I embark on a summer of poker and music.

The first draft came in around 173K words, and the second draft was a shade under 149K. In the last two weeks, I trimmed around 24K or 14% overall. The sections that I cut represented 48% of a NaNo novel. Sort of mind boggling. Those paragraphs are gone forever. Some were delicately trimmed and others mercilessly hacked off.

I deleted two chapters entirely. One was short and out of place. It was made up of two separate 800 or so word segments that didn't even relate to one another. I almost cut it at the time that I wrote it but wanted to keep it in and think about it for a few weeks before I made a final decision. After reading the chapter once, I knew that it was doomed. That was easy to cut.

The other chapter was difficult for sentimental reasons. I was told that it was the least interesting chapter in the book, and also one of the longest chapters in the book. I had to be honest with myself and admit that the chapter was cumbersome and negatively affected the overall pacing. I created an amazing theme and concept which worked as a series of blog posts, but it was poorly executed in book form. It simply did not fit together with the rest of the chapters, which I see as just one little piece of a larger mosaic. And the writing was sloppy, choppy, unenthusiastic, and repetitive.

The troublesome chapter was placed at a pivotal point of the book where the action needed to speed up. I had to make a ruthless assessment and I pulled out the butcher's knife. There were few bits and pieces that I kept and re-inserted into different parts of the book, but the bulk of the chapter is nevermore.

On a good note, despite the fact that it's a book about Las Vegas, two of my favorites scenes (Key West and the Playboy Mansion) survived the cut.

Writing is the fun part and nothing gives me more pleasure and satisfaction. That stage was the easiest aspect. It's the editing and re-writing that becomes a chore for me. Bloody hell. Sometime on Wednesday, Nicky and I are gonna sit down and go through a line-by-line read of Lost Vegas. I have no idea how long that is going to take. We're gonna try to do several chapters a day and I'll re-write at night and wake up the next day to repeat the process.

Twitter is such a fuckin' joke compared to this writing project. It's like running to the end of the block, compared to running a marathon.

In previous years, I set aside April and May to hone the writing skills and workout to prep for a two-month assignment in Las Vegas for the WSOP. I'm in pretty good writing shape. I'm not worried about that. Although I haven't had the chance to workout as much in previous years, I have been eating healthier and just kicked opiates, so I'm feeling pretty good mentally and healthwise. Now that the second draft is done, I'll have a couple of more chances per day to take extended walks through Beverly Hills and eventually start jogging a bit.

Two down, one more to go.

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