“To achieve great things, two things are needed – a plan, and not quite enough time.” Leonard Bernstein
The last week of August I started the last year of my MFA – my thesis year. I thought I’d tell you a bit about my path into this next year. There is no manual on how to organize oneself for such a thing.
Background: Over the last several years* I’ve been writing my first book-length story with the intention of taking it through thesis – the writing capstone project of the MFA. My advisor is Ben H. Winters (http://benhwinters.com/). He and I are aligned on the goal – a publishable^ first novel by May, 2016.
Current State: Coming into this summer I had finished the 5th draft of the “novel-in-progress”. During August Ben read it and very kindly made over 400 comments throughout the ~170 page document. Comments ranging from sentence-level suggestions to big-picture concerns. Without exception Ben’s comments are spot on.
While he was doing that, I read the manuscript to myself out loud, and made over 300 comments. Most of my comments were small, text tweaks – adding color here, altering a dialogue tag there.
Onward: I have now done a few things. 1) I’ve read all of the comments and done some exploratory writing to better understand the challenges. 2) I’ve created a writing schedule covering each week from now through April 25th, 2016. 3) And I’ve printed Ben’s commented copy and my commented copy.
I have set these two copies of the manuscript on either side of my laptop and begun the work, according to schedule.
The schedule has me rewriting, from scratch, the entire manuscript twice – once before Thanksgiving, and once again by the end of March – with a read by Ben in-between.
I will work for two hours a day, every day, hoping that will be enough effort to accomplish the work I’ve scheduled.
Do root for me, won’t you? And if you’re looking for me I’m here at my desk – writing.
*A tale unto itself.
^A manuscript an agent will read.