I have been devoting a whole month to revising a key chapter in Reaching the Animal Mind, the chapter on neuroscience and clicker training. That means five hours a day of intense concentration at the computer, usually between 6:00 a.m. and noon. I spent even more time on this chapter a year ago. Cumulatively, I may be working on the eighth draft of this particular chapter! Bits and pieces come along from draft to draft, but large chunks of new writing have to happen, too.
"Real Life" doesn't go away just because I am working on this other thing. ClickerExpo is coming to Austin, TX, and Providence, RI, next season. That has meant meetings and discussions—and work for me on the schedule and the website. Karen Pryor Academy is flourishing! I made a quick trip to Seattle over the Fourth of July to meet with our first round of international students at Terry Ryan's Legacy Camp (wonderful students from Israel, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Finland).
The science of writing
After that, back to the book—and why is this chapter so damnably hard? I think I know. It has all the difficulties of writing a scientific paper. You have to marshal your arguments in the most logical order possible. You need to array your evidence carefully, pruning out the trivial and dropping any example, however amusing or interesting, that doesn't precisely prove a point. And, you must always work with the awareness that critics will spot and pounce on any carelessness. Any misstatement, any misuse of a word, for example, and the enemy will use it to undermine your authority and your conclusions. All of that requires a tremendous amount of tinkering, moving bits of things here and there, going back to the research notes, and spending long hours mulling over the content itself.
Reaching the Animal Mind is not a scientific paper, of course. I have been directly instructed by my editor not to bother with backup evidence, citations of papers, quoting other authorities, and so on. That certainly reduces the clutter and saves a lot of time—time I'm now spending focusing on the fact that this chapter also needs to be of some practical use to you, the reader. It also needs to be fun. It needs to "swing."
Well, I think it's going to. But what hard work!