Sometimes, I like to believe, I do manage to blitz things. There was that summer (2015?), when I banged out two articles in a couple of months, and in 2016 (?) I completely re-wrote the biggest piece of the MMP from scratch so that the style would be smooth instead of a weird patchwork of revisions. Both those periods saw focused, concentrated work . . . over a period of weeks . . . which still needed to be revised and tinkered with for months after the initial “blitz.”
In other words, I don’t really blitz my writing. Even when I do have weeks of writing 1000 words a day, and get a whole essay roughed out very quickly, it is still a longer, slower process than I like to believe. Somehow I remain attached to this notion that sometimes writing goes fast, despite all the evidence I have from my own life, never mind Boice’s surveys, that it really doesn’t.
Fast is relative. I’m still working on the last remaining hunk of the MMP, one that got an R&R awhile back (I’m not mentioning how far back, too embarrassing, but I fully expect it to be treated as a new submission at this point, that’s how bad it is). I’ve worked on it every day for 28 days, since starting a new document in place of trying to alter things in an old one, and it is now up to 5233 words. That’s a little less than 200 words a day, on average. While I was away, I managed close to 400 words a day. Since I came back, I’ve had a few days (teaching days, tired days) when I just tinkered with footnotes or added translations of Latin quotations. But I’ve touched it every single day. Judging by the length, I should be near the end. I’m not going to predict when it will be done. I’d like to get it out by the end of the month, but I wanted to get it out by the end of December, too, and that didn’t happen. There will be editing passes, and footnote-checking passes, and pretty soon now I expect it will be finished. Again.
A month or so to write an essay would be fantastic if I were starting from scratch. Obviously I’m not; I have a lot of material to work with for this piece. Part of the reason it has changed so much is because of working on other pieces of the MMP, and on the introduction to the translation, which gave me more insight into elements of the present essay. It was originally the more literary arm of the MMP, but now has a bit more manuscript in it than it did at first. When this chunk is done, I’ll start something fairly new, not quite totally from-scratch, as I did a lot of preliminary work in the fall so that I could write the abstract for a conference, and it’s kinda-sorta related to the Huge Honking Translation project. I’m wondering how fast I can make it go, and whether it’ll be a chip-away 200-words-a-day project, or if it might be a 1000-words-a-day-for-a-week-then-revise sort of thing.
I wish I could get over this fantasy about fast writing. I think it has something to do with the enthusiasm I feel when I have those concentrated weeks in which I write a lot. That energy makes it feel like I wrote even more than I did, and I remember the energy and enthusiasm more than I remember what really happened and how much time I spent revising and tinkering.