Paulelmo's Blog

The Situation of Phillip Progress Report

This evening I’ll be starting on the third draft of The Situation of Phillip, and I’m hoping that life puts less in the way of the third draft than it did the second.

I have a friend named Chuck Whitman, who has been interested in the process, and his recent questions have made me realize that you might not know what I’m talking about when I tell you about these things. So, as I’ve arrived at this pivotal point, I thought I’d let you in on how this is happening.

The first draft was the actual writing of the book. The second draft was my first reading of the book. I wrote the book, and then I read it. During that reading, I fixed grammatical problems and mistakes, and I also noted questions that arose about the story itself, whether certain parts jibed with others, whether a certain phrase or action fit a certain person’s character, and things like that.

Now, the third draft will be my second reading of it. I will still be editing for grammatical issues, as those undoubtedly do still exist. I will be syncing up certain parts with others, strengthening the timeline, and questioning whether certain parts are needed or not.

After that, it still won’t be where it needs to be, but it should be a strong and cohesive enough story for me to let someone read it. I’ll read through it two or three more times after that, but those readings at least should be mainly to clean it up some more. (You can’t imagine how many times a person might have to read over a 90,000 word manuscript to get all of the little problems that spell-check won’t catch, “the” for “they,” “an” for “and,” and things like that.

The reason for this update, however, is to tell you where I am personally for having gotten to this point in my writing life. In particular, I want to tell you about something interesting that happened to me during that first reading.

You might imagine what a high I’m on with my writing career right now. It has been 24 years since I decided that I would work toward making writing my primary source of income. (In the next couple of years I’m planning to become an overnight sensation.) Now, after those 24 years, I’ve come to the week that I finished reading the first complete novel that I’ve ever written. It is such a trippy feeling. There is a buzz to it that lies just beyond me. I feel it, I am part of it, and it is part of me; still, it hovers just a skosh of an atomic piece of cilia above me. It envelops me completely, the exact same size as I am plus the size of that one little atomic particle multiplied by the area of my body.

This does not cause any anxiety or negativity; nor is the overall feeling conceited or fearful; it’s just a good place to be, and I’m feeling like you could find a worse friend than me in a bar fight.

The interesting thing that happened with the second draft, that first reading, was that when I got down to when I had about 25 or 30 pages to go, I realized I didn’t recall how the darn thing ended. I had about four different endings in mind when I was writing it, and I couldn’t remember how it all played out. (There is also no guarantee that the current ending will wind up being the ending.)

This made the reading process of those last pages more enjoyable, as I was getting more of the sensation that you will get when you read it; I was reading to find out what was going to happen. That was fitting, because that’s how I wrote it.

And here we are, beginning the so-important third draft, after which the story is supposed to be set; after it, the drafting should mainly concern those cosmetic (grammar) concerns.

So, keep me in your warm thoughts and prayers. If the Lord wills, I’ll be coming to you in about three weeks with news that I have gotten through with this part of the process. At that point, the manuscript should be ready to be passed along to a small group of people, one of which is Mr. Whitman.

Until soon.

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