Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Snack Attack! (and a Short Novel Update)

My book is making me fat(ter)

That’s right, I’m blaming the novel. It’s not that I insist on cramming junk food into my mouth, it’s the fact that I do it while I’m writing that’s at fault. Right?

And yes, I'm writing this in spite of the fact that I know my mother will bust my chops about it after she reads it. But I needed a topic to write about and this was all that came to mind. I'll regret it later.

The good news is that I haven’t really gained a lot of weight or anything. But I have what you might call consistent corpulence – I’m pretty much always right at 225, rarely gaining or losing any weight at all. So when I noticed that I’d popped up a couple of pounds, I knew that my mid-day snacking had caught up to me.

The difference is that I’m now snacking by routine. My daily process is to finish watching the morning news, then to grab a can of diet soda and a snack and head downstairs to write. That snack is almost always some sort of potato chip, corn chip, or perhaps some cheesy poofs.

When I first realized that it had become chronic, I tried to substitute fruit or yogurt instead, but it never seemed to dull my hunger. Some of which, I realize, isn’t hunger, but a need for comfort as I tackle my creative writing. Sadly, the result of my attempted substitutions was that I’d eat the fruit or the yogurt, THEN I’d eat the same snack I’d have eaten before. I was just adding healthy food on top of the other stuff.

So this week I’m making my first attempt at a change. I had my wife buy me some peanuts, some sunflower seeds, and some dried fruit. I’m going to try rotating those with popcorn and baked chips to see if I can find a happy medium between the urge to snack and the fact that I’m not really burning too many calories when I write.

I may also have to have a go at sugarless gum. That might keep my body busy while my mind is racing away.

 Meanwhile, the book is coming along reasonably well after a couple of frustrating weeks. Chapters 5, 6 and 7 are finally finished, along with chapters 1-4. Of course, “finished” is a relative term. Each time I re-read a chapter, I make changes, but usually once I get a chapter “finished” the changes tend to be fairly minor. I’ve rarely had to scrap a while paragraph at this point, but usually change a word here or a phrase there. Of course, that may change once I let OTHER people read it and give me feedback.

Which is also underway, as it turns out. I had set February as my target for getting early chapters out into the hands of some of my readers, but then I went to my local writer’s roundtable last week and caught some flack for not bringing new material with me. I decided that since I didn’t plan to make any major changes to the first few chapters, I might as well bring them in and get some feedback. If there are major issues with the early chapters, there’s a decent chance that I’ve got the same issues later on and I may as well find that out now.

So I printed out Chapter 1 on Sunday night and have my wife read through it. She found quite a few little issues, such as words that I inadvertently repeated (usually because I went back after and changed the word, failing to realize that I’d used it already in a nearby part of the chapter). She also made some broader suggestions, but generally felt that the chapter was in good shape. My wife’s pretty smart, and a writer, too, so if she says it’s good that gives me some confidence. I made most of her recommended changes, then put it together for Monday night’s group. I’ll have to report back on how that went later in the week (since I wrote this Monday afternoon and the chapter hasn’t been read yet).

So there we are – chapter 1 is getting some initial feedback, and chapters 1-7 are complete in a first- or second-draft state. Chapter 8 should get underway today (Tuesday), and I’ve already bullet-pointed some of the key concepts in the chapter that I want to be sure to hit. I hope to bang the whole thing out in one day if all goes well. And if the new snacks work out, maybe I can even do that without exploding.


  1. Thanks, Ken! I still feel like it's going too slowly, but if I can just get a few days of strong progress I think I'll feel better about it.

  2. I'm "catching up" on your blog and, no, I am not going to bust your chops. I'm just shaking my head in wonder that you are downing all the junk to give you energy and keep you going. Hmmm, was that a chop buster?

    Don't give up or give in re your writing. We have faith in you and appreciate that it's a hard grind. But then nothing in life worthwhile comes easy.

  3. Sliced ham wrapped around a stick of cheese (Cheddar or Red Leicester). Yum. Avoid the carbs.