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Tin Can Mental Contagion
Memories of the Past and Future
by Gene Dillon

Opening the Can
—Publishing in 125,000 Easy Steps
Gene is currently working on publishing of a collection of his stories in print. Documenting the process from start to finish, Opening the Can will replace his monthly column until the stories are published.

Chapter 2: Spare a Moment?
It's nice to have made a commitment. Now it's just a matter of how fast I choose to get it done. It would be nice to just get it all over with as quickly as possible, but we all have lives, and mine is unnecessarily complicated. The lives of adults are ruled by strategies of compromise and give-and-take. But mostly, I think we're all just too fucking tired. After work, hobbies, making time for a significant other, taking care of the kids, keeping the home filled with supplies and fixing what is broken—what time is left? Count the hours on your ten fingers, if you still have that many. Chances are you won't be needing all of them.

Why? Why is that? Where the hell is time? Where? It's with us every moment, isn't it? So we don't have to look for it. So why is it money? Why do we have to steal moments of it? Or live on borrowed portions of it? What is this stuff? I need huge blocks of it, and I need it now. An hour here and an hour there just isn't good enough. There's too much fritterization going on. You have to make a plan if you want to do anything in this life. Otherwise, nothing will happen. I don't want nothing to happen. That's an intentional double-negative.

I'm thankful that TV is so crappy these days. It makes it a little bit easier to divvy up the hours left on my last finger-count, which varies from week to week. I can't let the count rest at zero every week. If I do that, I'm a fucking idiot, and I know it. You know those days when you get home from work, and you finish putting the kids to bed, if you have them, and you just want to plop down and relax in front of the thing … I can't bother doing that anymore. Okay. That helps. TV is out.

November 20, 2006:
Having completely condensed all of about 13 total stories into one long document, I dive into the first paragraph of the first story, "Tenderfoot".

Whoa. This sucks! Jesus … wait … slow down, take a breath … This is a good thing, right? Because I've had 4 years of experience not only writing my own pieces, but also proofing the work of my compatriots, I am able now to recognize the kind of writing that … sucks … a lot. SO, yes, this is good. Because let's face it, the ideas are there, it's just the execution that is so painful to accept.

See, I thought I'd just be giving all of this work the once over, you know? Just tweak it a little bit. But I was wrong. This is going to be a heavy, heavy chunk of my life here. It's called revision. Revision is nothing like editing. Revision is a total rewrite. Revision is extracting the purpose of a paragraph and completely rebuilding it, like gutting a house for a renovation. Like razing a building on a plot of land to put something much better up, something with better structure and aesthetic, something with a fresh perspective, something with plumbing that actually works. Which reminds me, the original first story in this collection, "Karmic Baptism", is so awful that I'm refusing to look at it. I wrote that one in 2001. It's about the Web, seen as a sort of a sewage system, and an injector pump that explodes in a plumber's face. I plan on giving it a complete rewrite from memory. There's a lot of material there to help explain things that need to be explained, which is why I'm using this device. Everything I see and experience can be utilized to explain everything else I see and experience. The how is in the details. My job is to make the communication of these ideas available to you in great detail, using words impregnated with humor and meaning, which are purely subjective sensibilities, but it is my hope that I'll be able to establish a connection with you, yes YOU, the reader.

But the deeper I delve into this project, the more I understand why I've been putting this off so long. For the next couple of months, I'll be doing battle with two arch-rivals: Old Man Time, and My Own Bad Writing. I just muddled through three paragraphs, which took me 3 hours. One hour per paragraph? I have almost 3,000 left to go, so that's … not okay.

I hope the later stuff doesn't require so much work.

Mental Contagion
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