Thursday, May 10, 2012

Chicken Ranch report no. 19

When is a writing report not a writing report? When there's damn little writing to actually report. This Marvin Zindler chapter has turned into a long, painful slog which shows no signs of easing up or indeed, ever ending. It's blown my time budget so far out of the water that there's no realistic hope of my finishing the first draft of the book by June 1, as has been my goal. There are quite a few reasons for this--not least of which is my habit of being a slow writer. But other obstacles have imposed themselves on me to make the task that much more challenging. Last week, The Wife was away in Dallas for Texas School, a huge photography learning conference. It fell upon me to play the single parent, and by the time the last one went to bed in the evening, I was far too drained to produce anything useful during my traditional late-night writing period. Maybe 500 useable words emerged unscathed from last week.

So yesterday I took a rare day off from my job at the university to stay home and write, my intention being to complete the Zindler chapter. Fat chance. I'd just settled in to a writing groove, halfway into the first paragraph of the day's new work, when word came from school that our eldest had just encountered an unpleasant bit of bullying at middle school. Not being a helicopter parent, I try to let my children fight their own battles, but this situation demanded intervention--besides, the punk in question had made comments directed at myself and The Wife, and I absolutely took offense. It angried up my blood, as the great Satchel Paige would say. So I spent the morning at the school, meeting with the assistant principal and getting the matter resolved (which I believe it has been--I was particularly adamant regarding retaliation by the punk in question against my daughter for "snitching," so I'll be keeping close tabs until the year ends). Afterwards, I was still too stirred up to settle in to writing, so I went on some errands with The Wife and grabbed a good lunch of Jägerschnitzel at Friesenhaus. We'd never eaten there before, despite talking about it off and on for years. New Braunfels, you see, has a really bad habit of playing lip-service to its German heritage, but being really bad on the follow-through. All the other restaurants in town that claim German cooking are mediocre Americanized shadows of the real thing (a close relative is married to a retired German butcher, so he cooks the real thing for us on occasion. It is mind-bogglingly good). I'm happy to report that the Friesenhaus is the real deal--at least, closer to the real deal than anything else we've ever had in town. We're definitely going to explore the menu further in the future.

The afternoon's writing amounted to fits and starts that produced nothing. I couldn't even finish the sentence I'd abandoned mid-way through when I left for the meeting at the school. After a failed family outing and dinner in San Antonio (don't ask) I got the kids to bed and settled down to write, knowing the day was a total write-off as far as writing was concerned, but determined to salvage something during my normal writing time. It was like slogging through molasses. In the end, once I finally gave up, I think I finished up with 200 useable words. For the entire day. That, folks, is piss-poor production. I am so ready to be finished with Zindler and move on to chapter 11--which tackles the actual closure of the Chicken Ranch and puts events together in a comprehensive way that's never been done before. I'm looking forward to it. It's going to be challenging and time consuming, yeah, but it can't be any worse than the battle I'm fighting right now.

Now Playing: Billy Joel The Stranger
Chicken Ranch Central


  1. Anonymous11:25 AM

    My opinion is Zindler wasn't worth mentioning at all, EXCEPT in the final chapter... don't beat yourself up Jayme. He wasn't worth the time. Delete that chapter and move on.

  2. HA! Oh, no, he is integral to the whole thing. And he wasn't nearly as in control of the events that unfolded as he thought he was. There's a method to my madness--you don't work on a project for three years without developing a little of both! The real trouble is meshing a bunch of complex interrelationships so they are coherent and the relevance becomes clear. Not an entirely easy task.