So, it's taken about a month since I finished the book — and several delays, not excepting a need to rewrite part of the last quarter, my own procrastination and the fact that "American Idol" is now on — but the synopsis is done. It's 13,000 long. It has to be 1,400 max for the contest I'm planning on sending the story to.

So, the hacking begins.

Probably not the best choice of words. The winnowing down begins. The shaving, the paring, the shaping, the fashioning. In any case, the cutting of wordage begins.

But in the end, the synopsizing was purgative. As I had thought early on, it provided a way for me to take a step or two back and examine what I was saying and writing with a different eye. It was as if I'd been so close to the painting that all I could see were the individual brush strokes, and by doing the synopsis I at least can feel the shape of the image now. More winnowing, and I might get a sense of the full picture. And so on. Hell, if this is how the process works then if I manage to get it published I should be able to drop-kick the manuscript out the window. Let's hope the distance doesn't get that ridiculous.

See, I've never been an outliner. I sit down, I have an idea, I find a good place to start, and I start. And I go and I go until it feels like we've turned a corner and then I go a bit more until things resolve, and then I sweat a bit trying to make it all make sense and then an ending comes. That can be a short time, or years and years. But that's the basic process for me. After that, it's mostly just draft after draft. So it never occurred to me that there was a therapeutic feel to feeling the bones of the story stand out a bit. I still don't think I'll ever write in outline — not fiction anyway — but this backwards working into it has a use.

The other thing I've done for the book is I've finally gotten it ready to mail off to the U.S. Copyright Office. I've had this love-hate relationship with doing this forever. For one thing, I've never felt good enough about it to say that now is the time it should be preserved in concrete, and now I do. But for another I've had this terrible paranoiac's sense that I'm going to not get it copyrighted and then someone will come out with the exact same story but with a twinge of difference and make a bundle and all I'll have is a pile of ashes. It's ridiculous. But I've spent years turning an eye to anything that even vaguely resembled my own story, even only in parts. I can make you a list of things that have made me gasp that now my story is useless because someone else has done it. Which is rubbish, I know, but there's your so-called sensitive creative mind.

So the book is printed out and packaged and the form is filled out and a check ($45!) is attached and on Monday it goes in the mail. In something like four months I'll have a certificate of registration. And then, if someone comes out with the exact same story but with a twinge of difference, I can sue. Sue, baby!

I may frame the certificate. Even if the book never gets published, there is something permanent and secure-feeling about having a copy somewhere in the deep bowels of some governmental office (probably a few aisles down from the Ark) that is proof of my existence, proof that once, I did something worth registering. Even if I am the only person who feels it should be registered.