Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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Aaand . . . summer vacation is over

Yes, I know, not for actual students, unless they’re taking summer classes. Which, to be sure, plenty of them are. I haven’t got the list of students enrolled in summer classes — I mean Support Services students, which are the ones I work with — so not sure yet just how many students have optimistically decided to take College Algebra (say) over the summer. Math in doubletime, what fun!

This is where we find out which students were passed along by the Nice Teacher and are actually totally clueless about algebra. If only we didn’t have this moment of revelation every single semester! My modest proposal is to make all students test into each math class, regardless of grades. This would avoid letting the Nice Teacher screw up the students by pretending they’ve learned math when they really, really haven’t. Alas, not politically feasible. Although I, at least, would greatly enjoy the firestorm of protest that would come when students who “passed” one math class were told they’d have to retake. I expect standards would be tightened up in a big, big hurry if we started mandatory testing.

Oh, well.

If you’re a parent though, my personal advice is: be very suspicious of your kids’ curricula. Or your own if you’re a student, of course. Way too many Nice Teachers out there, and does it ever bite to realize you’ve been paying tuition for a fake class. Though honestly, if you’re taking group “tests”? That should be a clue.

And for heaven’s sake, make sure your little kids learn (REALLY learn) the multiplication tables, how to add and subtract fractions, how to add and subtract negative numbers, and preferably long division. Everything else falls into place if you have that foundation. Honest.

Okay! On a completely different note:

Did I write 160 pp over the past 20 days?

No. But I wrote 150! Which is close enough! So I am happy.

The big question now is: shall I keep moving forward, albeit more slowly? Or stop at this point and revise?

And the answer is . . . I can’t bear to cut any of my beautiful pages, yet. So I will move on, although I’m actually taking notes about revision and I know perfectly well that I’m going to combine two of the earlier chapters. And I can see some things I will have to work on during revision regarding characterization.

So much psychology involved in what works for a particular writer. For me — and I’m sure for lots of other people — seeing the page number grow is Very Important as a motivator. The total length of the ms now is 206 pages. That is 64,000 words, roughly. That had better be more than half done, but it’s probably not — I expect to slightly overshoot my 400 pp (120,000 word) limit. As I get closer to the limit, cutting stops being psychologically hard and I may start revision without quite finishing the ms.

I once quit with two chapters to go, went back, and cut 100 pages (yes, an even 100) from a ms. Then I wrote the final two chapters and started real revisions. That was the third Griffin Mage book, by the way. Yes, indeed, I overshot my length by 100 pages WHILE ON A DEADLINE. Which I made the deadline, but my plan is never to overshoot that far again. Hope this one doesn’t go anything like that far over!

So . . . that was my summer vacation. Deadline to finish the rough draft? September 1st. It’s really nice to expect to finish in a reasonable time, without killing myself.

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