When Are We Done Here?

“You know, when you collect these last few posts and add them to the ms. you’ll have close to 700 pages of this ambitious Book of Irv,” said the skeleton of my father.  “Then, I understand, you’ll begin assembling them, organizing it by subject matter into chapters, cutting, pasting, weeding out the redundant passages that you’ve written multiple passes of, like yesterday’s, combining the best of them and so on.  How will you know when you’re done?”

A fair question.   I have to grant you part of what you always said about me:  “you’re not afraid of hard work, you can lay down right next to it and drop into a sound sleep.”  What you described above is hard work, Brownie.  

“Heck of a job, Brownie,” said the skeleton cheerfully.  

How will I know when I’m done?  That’s a $64,000 question.  I guess I’ll come to the part of the process where I’ve always hit the wall– getting the help of amiable and essential insiders I should have been lining up for my entire lifetime.  

Had I been the kind of person you always hated, the guy who figures out what he needs, works a room, drops business cards like Johnny Appleseed, glad-hands, winks, cultivates political alliances, makes sincere-looking expressions as potentially valuable strangers complain, I’d have a useful connection or two.  If I’d been that guy, I’d have people I could tap to read the first draft, and other people to introduce me to agents, and publishers, I’d have a connection.  One good connection is worth ten small strokes of luck.

“Yeah, well, sorry about that.  I always did hate those careerist types and I guess I imparted that strong distaste to you,” said the skeleton.    “I should have urged you to go to Harvard instead of City College, I suppose.”

Piss down the drain.   And the rest of that is down the road anyway.  I need to do all those things to get the ms. into readable shape before I can do any of that searching for how to get it into print, get paid something.    While I’m doing that I will produce discrete chapters, like the one on religion I’m planning to do this week and send to your nephew.  I will hopefully be able to get some short pieces published while I’m working on the next draft of the book.  When I have a couple published I should have a much easier time getting readers for the ms., an agent, etc.  That’s my plan, anyway.  

As for the short answer to your question, I’ll know we’re done here when someone I respect reads the manuscript and tells me she shed a few tears, had a couple of laughs and it made her think about her own life, imagine the ordeals her father must have endured.  I suppose that and a $64,000 check, payment in full for the proverbial question.  

“Well, strength to your arm, then, and best of luck,” said the skeleton.  

Gracias, papa.

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