Winter Projects (and well beyond) – Ruthless Wordsmithing

I have on occasion penned a “State of the Barn” blog post but this year decided to lay out my short (and long) term goals as this series of “Winter Projects (and well beyond).”  Looking over the list it reads more like a Soviet/DC Deep State 5-Year Plan.  Oh well.  

Who knew that I would evolve/devolve from a guy who fixed artifacts into a craftsman whose most important output would be words?  Well, that might be my job description now.  I need to follow the example of Chris Schwarz and become comfortable with killing my babies (words).  It is a curious profile in psychology that I am much more comfortable with jettisoning people and relationships that become deleterious or irrelevant to me, while often I cling to ideas and words long after I should.  Everyone has some versions of normalcy bias and preference bias and clearly these are mine.

I’d better get better at it, or my writing projects will just continue to spin further into unfruitfulness or inactivity.  I’ve been wrestling with A Period Finisher’s Manual for almost a decade, or in other words, eight years too long.  I have now begun to take my laptop compewder with me to the shop, to spend at least an hour or two on the project every day in order to knock it out so I can move along to the Roubo files Michele has already completed and sit mockingly in their respective directories (she is almost two books ahead of me, having already finished her side of The Roubo Lexicon and is currently speeding through Roubo on Garden Carpentry [which is way cool!].  She will soon be starting on Roubo on Windows, Doors, Stairs and Floors, our largest Roubo volume).  Plus, I’ve got a lot of fiction outlined in my notebook, some mystery thrillers, some short stories and novellas about Joseph of Nazareth and Joshua Bar Joseph in their first Century workshop.

I am not an experienced writer and have not previously encountered the hurdle I am facing with APFM, namely that I have too much extraneous information and too many words on the subject.  I have returned almost to Ground Zero in rebuilding the manuscript contents and organization.  That was certainly not the situation with Roubo on Marquetry and Roubo on Furniture, where Roubo’s own words pretty much established the boundaries of the projects.  And, on Virtuoso: The Tool Cabinet and Workbench of Henry O. Studley, even after years of diligent research my knowledge was frustratingly sparse and my willingness to go beyond it was almost nonexistent, a situation imposing its own discipline.  I wrote that manuscript first draft in only six weeks for the main text with another two weeks for the photo captions.

Now I just gotta get down to the business of killing words and excising unnecessary rabbit trails.  I would say, “Wish me luck,” but I do not need luck.  I need ruthlessness.  The new standard has to be not, “Does this amuse me?” but rather, “Does the typical reader need this?”