Statistics considered as a motivating force

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Once in a while in my Usenet newsgroup, I post the current state of the table of contents from my book, just so I can demonstrate to myself that I'm making progress. If you don't care for statistics or for recitations of accomplishments that don't affect you, you might want to steer clear now.

I finished Part I of my memoir late in August (including an interlude that forms the connective tissue between the two halves), then shipped it off to my agent. That was 25 chapters plus a prelude and an interlude, and it amounted to a horrifying total of 523 manuscript pages.

Over the next few weeks, I whittled about 70 pages (and two full chapters) out of the manuscript, completely replaced the prelude, wrote a synopsis of the second half, and let my agent start submitting the thing. I also carved two excerpts out of what I had already done for her to try selling to magazines.

This was all a lot of work, and it took me a while after that to get my notes for the second half organized, get my head around the shape of the rest of the book, and get all the necessary loafing out of my system. It seemed like I'd been away from the book itself for quite a while when I finally sat down a week and a half ago, at last, to start producing new material. This morning before work I finished what is now Chapter 24, the first chapter of Part II of the book.

This brings the current page total back up to 478, and it is not without a certain pride that I present the latest table of contents:

How I Went from Mormon Missionary to
Hijacker Without Really Trying

Table of Contents

PRELUDE. Problems in Applied Religion

PART I. United States

CHAPTER 1. What Happened Before You Arrived
CHAPTER 2. The Missionary Imposition
CHAPTER 3. Clarion Call
CHAPTER 4. Gentiles on My Mind
CHAPTER 5. The Rocky Mormon Picture Show
CHAPTER 6. Words and Phrases You Must Never Use in Utah
CHAPTER 7. Holding Fast to the Rod of Glass
CHAPTER 8. The Tête-à-Tête Offensive
CHAPTER 9. Supercalifornication
CHAPTER 10. Coke and Sympathy
CHAPTER 11. God Drops a Bombshell
CHAPTER 12. A Thunderous Clash of Symbols
CHAPTER 13. Feeling My Oaths
CHAPTER 14. The Devil and Miss McCormick
CHAPTER 15. Dotting My I's and Crossing My T's
CHAPTER 16. I Was a Teenage Space Alien
CHAPTER 17. Girlfriend, Interrupted
CHAPTER 18. Sailors on an Empty Sea
CHAPTER 19. Confession Is Good for the Gander
CHAPTER 20. The Sound of the Trumpet, the Alarm of War
CHAPTER 21. The Tissue at Hand
CHAPTER 22. Claws Like a Bear's
CHAPTER 23. Kisses, Foiled Again

INTERLUDE. What Happened Before Any of Us Arrived

PART II. Canada

CHAPTER 24. Clueless in Calgary

And there you have it. No applause necessary. Just doing my job—finally.

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This page contains a single entry by William Shunn published on October 12, 2000 1:14 PM.

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