Monday, February 9, 2009

First day of cutting

I dove into it today, starting with pg. 1 and cutting material that I love and don't really want to cut.

For the first time I'm working off a paper copy for editing, since it was printed out for my friend to read, and I'm thinking I can read through and mark up one chapter per morning, which is what I did this morning. I can't really call Chapter 1 done though, until I make the changes on the computer, especially since in a few cases I make a note like "develop this graf," which will be work a little more time consuming that just entering a change on the computer file.

So, maybe 3 weeks of work like this, followed by 3 weeks of entering the changes.

Diving in this way is scary because in many ways I don't know what I'm doing, and it's interesting how what I don't know is the same stuff I didn't know what I dove into just writing the darn thing almost 2 years ago. Jane Smiley says every novel has its own unique technical problems inherent in the conception, and those problems nag at the books all the way and are the source of its imperfections.

I'm seeing that in the sense that the problem I'm struggling with is the same problem that got me writing it in the first place--the question, sincerely a mystery to me, of what motivates one of the characters. Without a persuasive solution, the book has a risk of being unbalanced and unsatisfying. The temptation to hide the problem behind a lot of literary fireworks is always there.


Melanie said...

I like your blog.

I'm working on a novel too, and I have the same problem you do, with the character's motivation. I discovered it only after I'd written most of the book (I'm almost done). As I watched the scenes come together, I saw that my character gives and gives with almost nothing in return and never asks why or complains about it.

It's something to address in the rewriting phase, I suppose.

Good luck!

RW said...

Thanks Melanie. The feeling I had at that stage was perfectly summed up by Martin Amis . . .

To me, the first draft can hardly even be called a draft. It was like a very long, reasonably organized sketch, but in the end it functioned like a prompt for a lot of other writing that became the actual first draft.

Melanie said...

I have a general idea that that's coming...and I'm looking forward to getting started on it!