Two Books in Two Months

It’s amazing how a sabbatical from my community college teaching and service duties spurs writing production. I meant to write one book, but I ended up writing TWO — in TWO MONTHS.

Scaffolds_Cover_for_KindleThe online memoir writing class that I was taking through Ed2Go started August 20. Meanwhile, I started writing Scaffolds: A Childhood Memoir of Books on the following Monday, August 25. I gave myself a quota of 1500 words per weekday, with the weekends either as a break or as catch-up if I fell behind on my weekly word quota.

When I finished my class early on September 26, I had 36,000 words in my first draft. When I completed my first draft on October 8, I had 48,700 words. Then I let it sit as a couple of my friends looked over it and I posted the raw chapters on the blog for anyone to read and comment.

On October 9, I started composing student instructional materials, but I decided it was easier to compile them in one handbook. I already had some chapters written way back in 2005, when I procrastinated on my dissertation. I even posted them on this blog in 2012, as part of a series of “How to Write the 5-Paragraph Essay” entries. So, recycling what I already had, I expanded on those chapters and added on chapters that covered how to write different types of essays, like Narration, Process, Division (Analysis), and Argument, pulled from my own past PowerPoints that I made for my ENGL 1301 and ENGL 1302 classes.

StructuresCoverIn less than a week, I had the first draft done for Structures: The Reluctant Writer’s Guide to College Essays on October 14.  After a quick review by my sister, I revised a couple of more drafts before I published the finalized proof copy on October 22 on the self-publishing platforms Createspace, Kindle Direct Publishing, and Lulu. It’s a short book — only 22,500 words in fifteen short chapters.

Meanwhile, from October 17 to October 27, I revised multiple drafts of Scaffolds. By the time I was done with it, I and others had whittled away the manuscript to 47,800 words. The proofing was a pain in the butt because the book has images, and often the conversion from MS Word to PDF messed up the book layout. But after some tinkering, I got my finalized proof copy looking right and published it today, October 28, on the same three self-publishing platforms. (Truth be told, I can just use Lulu, but I find Createspace much more user friendly, especially linking a paperback with its Kindle version.)

So that’s how I wrote two books in two months. I’m even a couple of weeks ahead of schedule, as the next phase of my sabbatical project — create regular and Honors ENGL 1301 and ENGL 1302 courses based on these books — was meant to start on November 10.

It’s amazing what gets done when 1) I’m holed up like a hermit in my home office and 2) I’m not drowning in a sea of freshman composition essay grading. 🙂

Okay — time to revamp PowerPoints and syllabi.



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