I finished reading the fourth draft of a novel this weekend. It was amazing to see, even at this stage, where the writer held fast to her vision and where she was willing to make some radical changes. As well as many small changes. And how those small changes changed everything. I’ve always nursed a pet theory that writers exaggerate about how much they revise, how much they throw out, and how much editing they actually take. Put another way, there’s revising your work and playing with your food. Reader, this writer revised.
I was weeping at the end of this book. The power of it caught me off guard. Every moment in the novel found its fulfillment in the last seven pages. It was like watching a master chess player dominate the board in a series of swift, confident moves. What is the sound of a marble King falling upon a marble board. I reread those pages again, slower the second time, looking for the sleight of hand, the bouquet up her sleeve, the doves released. How the hell did she do it?
I will always be a sucker for this: for words to take me away from me as they console me, to make me forget myself and remind me who I am, to be trustworthy and manipulative, to seduce and destroy, to implicate and complicate, to come alive. When a writer does all this, and when I have had the privilege of clocking it, I am reminded of why, even after years of sweeping shit, I’ll never leave show business.
Filed under: Writing |