There’s nothing going on with the History of the Ancient World from my end. Zip. It’s off being printed (I think), and I’m just waiting to get a glimpse of it. Or get another review. Or something.

In the meantime, we’ve been having a warm January with lots of rain, followed by sharp frost and cold: this means that the forsythia has 1) blossomed and 2) frozen to death.

It also means that we’re having road problems. All that freezing and expanding is death on roads, and we live down a LONG one, with no other access into the farm.

The culvert closest to the county road collapsed last week. We had to call in the labor corps–my cousins (this is when it helps to be related to half the county).

(Those are my first cousins, once removed, digging along the line of the old culvert.)

Once the ditches were redug on either side, we moved into the important stand-around-and-talk-about-the-machinery phase,

after which the culvert went in

and was covered by gravel. Now we’ve got a huge gravel speed-bump down at the end of the road, which UPS and Fed-Ex have both bottomed out on. (So did I, in the family van. I forgot it was there and all the kids’ heads hit the van ceiling.)

In another sign of the season, the last day of hunting season has come and gone. Once again I can go for my long run around the back of the fields without worrying about getting shot. And once again the dogs have found lots of goodies from the woods, where the hunters tend to clean the deer and leave the…er…extra bits. Seriously, our yard looks like there’s been an explosion in a deer factory. I tripped on this one on my way down to my office this morning.

And speaking of my office…yes, I am plugging along on the medieval history manuscript, thanks to the color-coded schedule (which is REALLY helping me work when I’m supposed to be working, as opposed to emailing, or shopping online, or waching The Office episodes on iTunes…). This week I’ve finished a very rough draft of Part One, and I’m going back through making a detailed outline of each chapter on oversized paper.

I’ve decided not to do my next draft until I’ve finished a first draft of the entire book–in January 2008. By which point I’ll have forgotten what I was thinking, in Part One, unless I make very careful outlines of all my notes. This is a lot of work…but I’m hoping it will help me focus in, during that second draft, on which parts actually NEED further development and which can be cut. With the last book, I developed the WHOLE THING and THEN cut it. As a result, I wrote 800,000 words in order to produce a 250,000 word manuscript.

800,000 words. That means I threw away HALF A MILLION WORDS.

Trying really, really, really hard not to do that again.

Showing 8 comments
  • Angie

    Could you post your color coded schedule? And tell us how you stick to it?

    Best wishes,
    Angie (from WI)

  • sleep-deprived

    I laughed out loud at the image of the kids’ heads hitting the ceiling of the van (I’m assuming everyone was alright). Around here that would have resulted in multiple requests (from the kiddos peeling their heads off the ceiling) for a repeat performance. I have to let you know that my laughing came to an abrupt halt at the thought of throwing away 500,000 written words!

  • Jennifer in OR

    This has got to be my favorite blog post ever read. I laughed out loud at the deer part. I love it! We find deer skulls and crazy bones all over our property, and the kids get an incredible kick out of it. We go on hikes specifically to look for them. And The Office is hilarious. My husband got into watching this, and sucked me into it, too. And how very cool to be related to half the county – really, that is awesome. There’s got to be great joy in having a little catastrophe, and then having everyone come to your aid and winding up with a sweet denouement. Beautiful.

    The color coded schedule – our New Year’s new thing is using ical. My husband and I sat down last week and got everything into the computer calendar (basically, I teach the kids in the morning while he does his programming and media work in the home office; then in the afternoons I go in to our warehouse and take care of while he teaches the kids). Plus we scheduled in all the kids chores, special family times, and short term and long term jobs (like cleaning the spare room, allotment week 3 of January). Each day, we print our personal schedule, and I have room to write in the errands I need to accomplish for that day (bank runs, doctor visits, etc.) We are loving it, and I can totally relate to the color-coded schedule keeping you on track. Now, I just look at that ical printout and say, oh my, I need to be at the warehouse by 1 p.m.! Kids, let’s wrap up music and lunch! Before, I would have honestly wandered in there around 2:30, chastising myself for being so unorganized, but having no system to support me. So be it color coding, some computer calendar program, or a basic daily planner, it’s all good! By the way, if it doesn’t get done on Monday, I write it in for Tuesday.

    Also, I don’t think it’s so bad to throw away half a million words. I really think developing the whole thing could possibly be part of the process of knowing what to truly keep. Do you know how many elements Thomas Edison fully tested before he realized that a carbon filament sealed in an airtight compartment was the way to go? Just a thought…

    Keeping warm in Oregon,


  • Amy

    I would like to see…at least an example of it, too. You must be dedicated to your schedule to actually make it work.

  • Susan

    I’ll work on getting a page or two from the schedule up on next week’s post. Haven’t figured out how to change the color of text on this blog yet. 🙂


  • Angie (a different one!)

    Another Angie here wanting to see a sample of your color-coded schedule. I’m also trying to make time to write, homeschool, read, volunteer, do chores, etc.

    As for cutting half a million words…ouch!

  • Jenny T.

    Please do!

    I SO want to try the color-coded schedule, too!

  • Lynn K.M.

    Nathan-7, Johnny-5, and I are reading through your Ancient Civilizations.and loving it! They color maps and blacklines included in the Activity Guide while I read. They even discuss with their father at breakfast what we’ve been studying recently. Today, as we were reading in Genesis, the five-year-old remarked,”The Egyptians knew better than to try to conquer Babylon, because they were just too powerful!” Of course I smiled with delight. Isn’t this what we are hoping for?
    I want to rush out and get a copy of The History of the (Whole) World for myself because this is all new to me. I have degrees in French and English Ed., but, like so many others here in the States, I was never taught anything but American History.
    Thankyou so much!

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