Writing Big Year: What to do with an overlong chapter

I’m still filled with joy at actually completing (synonyms: finishing, being done with, mastering, gazumping, hammering, nailing, slamming, winding up) a chapter. I can now “finish” all of them. Editing, rewriting, etc. can be done.

But there’s a caveat. My chapter 2, which miraculously compresses pivotal reactor history of excessive complexity into one narrative, is TOO LONG. Seventy-five or a hundred pages, actually, depending on the density of a page. Decapitation will trim that but not to the forty pages that an 800-page book of twenty chapters demands. And I can’t see myself eschewing the drama and “truth” of the story I’m assembling.

What to do? Think, certainly.

A grind but that’s okay

The blurriness of this photo isn’t because I took it badly. A fine misty rain was falling over my iPhone. In reality the Suffolk field I photographed on my first jog here was quite picturesque, but this incoherent image matches the quality of the run, which was horrid, tough and jet-lagged. (In fact I never managed to include the photo!) I didn’t dare consult Strava because the iPhone screen can’t be fingered when it’s wet, so in the end, after putting in a big effort, I only ran 9 kms, not 10. All I could do is remind myself that I couldn’t expect much more after 36 hours of travel.

Now I can’t wait for my next jog here in this most quintessential British countryside.

Writing Big Year: Working on the move

For many writers, the only place they can work is their haven – the sun-drenched studio, the silent bolthole in the back of the house, the kitchen table early in the morning, the musty library, the study with its bookshelves. Me, I’m not bad at writing on tram or train, and cafes are my real home. Over the next couple of months, I’ll take tablet, pens, notebook, index cards,¬†and 124 pages of reference notes, and will attempt to plot and draft Chapter 5, covering the crucial year of 1953.

Big Decade: Habit forming?

Does obsessing about one passion over twelve months lead to a cast-iron habit? I’m not sure. I read Charles Duhigg’s wonderful book four years ago, found it interesting, but didn’t tackle it seriously. Now is the time to revisit it, in light of the Big Decade. And of course airplanes are the ideal places to dig into books.