A Year in the Life of a Book in Progress: Part 1

Guest post by Ellie Presner

Note from Cecilia: This week’s guest contributor is author Ellie Presner, who has graciously shared her chronicle of her book’s progress with this blog today. These book progress reports were originally shared on Ellie’s blog, and we’ve compiled them together here. This is an interesting look at the timeline of a book and the querying process, for anyone who might be interested in what the process is like—and how long it takes! This will be a two-part post, with the second half to follow next week. Take it away, Ellie!

Book Progress Report #1
February 14, 2016

Hi, interested folks! I’ve reached 22,782 words of Our Driver Has No Car: Tales From the Trenches of Hollywood North.

I’ve been told that 80,000 words is a reasonable, nice, average number to shoot for. Which is why I probably won’t make it. Oh I’m kidding, I hope to end up somewhere around there by the time I reach the finish line.

This weekend was tough as I had a lousy cold yesterday… which mysteriously disappeared today, leaving me without any excuse to goof off. No, I was just supremely lazy. But next weekend I’m aiming for 24,000; anything over that will be cause for celebration. You heard it here first.

Book Progress Report #2
February 21, 2016

Ding ding ding! I made it to 24,144 words! Okay, it’s not a whole heap more since last weekend, but – considering I procrastinated a lot to get here, I’m pretty satisfied.

Also, the thing is, I can’t just sit down and start cold, writing from where I left off a week ago. Nope. I have to go back a few pages to kind of get my head back into it. So naturally, when I do that, I start editing what I wrote before! So there goes at least an hour, y’know? But I like to think I made it better than it was. Now I’m on page 73 (8×11, double spaced, Times New Roman 12 point). But I also have footnotes. And an index, which brings the total to 88 pages. Yup. But let me explain: the footnotes are both informative and, I like to think, funny. The Index of Goodies as I call it is chock full of extra stuff, analogous to the extras they used to put on DVDs. I’m hoping these extras will add to or enhance what I have in the main part of the book.

See you next week (I only write on the weekends), when I’m aiming for a big fat 26,000 words.

Book Progress Report #3
February 28, 2016

Phew! I’m proud to report that I’ve reached 26,550 words on my book, Our Driver Has No Car: Tales From the Trenches of Hollywood North. I’m very pleased with myself, as I doubled my output over last week. Since I only write on one weekend day, I’m happy!

I’m about to start Part Seven, and I’ll have three more parts to write after that one. I have
to say, this memoir stuff is a lot more exhausting than I thought it would be. I’m used to writing short pieces as you’ve seen in my blog, but that’s nothing like the 97 pages I’ve done so far on this project. It’s so tiring, a Strain on the Brain, if you will, trying to remember salient facts and conversations from twenty years ago; I’m pooped!

Off I go to stretch another part of my brain – in the kitchen, trying a new recipe – Southwestern Soup, subtitled “This hearty soup is a real family pleaser and stomach filler.” Just what I need now, to fortify myself to watch the Oscars. Hey, it’s a long slog!

Book Progress Report #4
March 6, 2016

Okay, I’m now at 28,057 words. That’s an output of 1,507 words today. It’s a slooow slog, people! Especially now.

Why now? Because I’m at the part where I talk about shows that were, shall we say, unpleasant to work on. Shows that people were prone to run screaming from and frothing at the– no, well maybe not quite that bad, but… bad enough. Why? You’ll just have to read the book, won’t you?

Anyway, it takes more time for me to wade through these difficulties than it did to hop through the good times. Not that there is always such a clear delineation between the two. Some gigs had both bad and good moments.

I think I’ve reached the point now where it’s better not to report here every week. I don’t want to wear you out. The darn thing will seem anticlimactic once it gets out there! So from now on, I’ll only write a progress report if there is something significant I want to tell you. Otherwise, just know that I’m writing away like a good little author. See you next time!

Book Progress Report #5
June 12, 2016

Wow! I’m here to tell you folks that I’ve finished the first draft of my book! It was three months ago when I last gave you an update.

My draft ends at 37,500 words. This is a bit on the short side, even for non-fiction. But as I go through it on my second pass, I hope to flesh it out with more anecdotes, as well as material gleaned from the tantalizing “miscellaneous” files in the “Script” folders on my computer.

I should mention, for readers who don’t know, that the book is a memoir of my decade working in the film and TV business here in Montreal during the 1990s. I’m hoping it will appeal to everyone who’s curious about what it’s like to work on a film production, what the elements of a script are, and other such stuff.
I’m still playing with the title, to make it as enticing as possible.
Onward with Phase II tomorrow!

Book Progress Report #6
June 22, 2016

Hi dear readers! So, as I mentioned a couple of weeks ago in my last report, I finished writing my book. Since then I’ve rewritten chapter headings and the title itself, and did a proofreading pass through it, plus edited bits that needed it along the way. I also added some photos to the Appendix. By the way, the book is now called (drum roll):

Crew Confessions from an Insider

(It was previously called “Our Driver Has No Car: Tales from the Trenches of Hollywood North.” The new title is spiffier, I think. Thanks to my son Jeremy, who helped me so much with its metamorphosis.)

The book is a memoir of my adventures toiling in the film business in Montreal as a script coordinator during the 1990s.

I have now shoved my little opus out of its nest (i.e., my computer) and on to my beta readers. These are friends and family members especially known for their honesty and great taste in reading.

Profuse thanks go to them for their dedication; I will report back to you as soon as I have feedback from all of these fabulous people!

To be continued…


Ellie Presner was born and raised in Montreal, and still lives her life here to the fullest as a freelance writer, editor and proofreader in the land of “bonjour-hi!”

Her writing credits include “Taking Back the Night,” which was nominated for a National Magazine Award. Originally published in Homemaker’s Magazine, it was anthologized in Essays: Patterns and Perspectives by Oxford University Press (1992). Another of her stories, “First Kiss,” was anthologized in The Issues Collection: Gender Issues, McGraw Hill Ryerson (1993). Her other articles have appeared in a variety of magazines; she’s also been published numerous times in the Montreal Gazette and local weekly papers.

Her blog, https://crossedeyesanddottedtees.wordpress.com, has drawn more than 11,000 visitors, with over 23,000 views from 81 countries since its inception almost two years ago.

When not at her Mac desktop, you’ll find her ensconced in my recliner with her cat, Annie, glued to her lap. If she needs to get up, she has to say, “Sorry, Annie…”


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