Let's say this was a sewage treatment plant. Just for fun. Here's how the process works:
Information gets dumped into my head... like the untreated sewage it is. No disrespect of course to all the wonderful people who have shared their knowledge with me thus far! I mean the comparison in the nicest possible way!
My brain is the septic tank where it sits until it has a chance to flow somewhere else. An amalgamation of all the ideas that have been dumped into it. Some of which should be there, and some of which, honestly probably shouldn't.
This Blog is the grit chamber. It's where the lumps get filtered out. The really irrelevant stuff. A few little ones might still sneak through, so you may get tidbits of information that seemingly have nothing to do with anything. But mostly it will be somewhat topical.
Disclaimer: it is a really bad idea to drink water at this stage. It has all sorts of nasty things in it and may well give you diarrhea. Hopefully my blog won't have quite such an uncomfortable affect.
Primary treatment is where I start keeping notes that are actually more coherently leading towards a publishable format. This is also sometimes called a sedimentation tank. It's the place where the water sits quietly for awhile, allowing the remaining heavy materials (or sludge) to sink to the bottom (which removes about 40-50% of solids from the waste water). The solids get scraped away. A structure will begin to take shape.
But it's not yet ready for public consumption. Oh no! Being a good American I've got to abide by the Clean Water Act, so I go to Secondary Treatment.
Secondary treatment is cool because it's bubbly. If my thoughts were water they would now be in something called an aeration basin. Little nozzles would squirt air to make them bubble. This adds oxygen and creates the right environment for the good bacteria, which are "Nature's vacuum cleaners." This stage will probably not happen for a good couple of months yet, as I start sifting through my manuscript. Proofreading. Editing. Re-writing.
Then, because quality is important, I shall go on to the advance treatment. Not all water gets this, because it's expensive. It's essentially a final scrub (if water can be said to be scrubbed.) I'll add an index, so you can find that reference to Thomas Crapper without having to flip through the whole book. Maybe a glossary of terms. Bibliography. Footnotes.
At last, six months from now (give or take a year... well, just give a year really) the discharge will take place. The book will be in print! Or at least downloadable (no pun intended for once!) Released back into nature to be re-used. To be soaked up by other minds.
If sewage treatment isn't a good metaphor for the writing process I don't know what is! I think when this ordeal is over I shall perhaps seek employment as a high school English teacher. Or maybe middle school would be a more appropriate context for my methods.
Any case, welcome to the blog. If you have made it this far into my first post you're a good sport. I promise some of them will be saner than this, but the weather has been miserably hot this past week, and I think it has gone to my head a bit. That's my excuse for now. Once the rain comes back next week I'll have to think of a new one I guess.
By the way, everything I know about sewage treatment I learned from Karen Mueller Coombs' book 'Flush'. She explains it pretty well, and this blog post doesn't half do her justice.