Sunday, March 4, 2012

Revision (un)Ready

Matt has now read the first draft of the horror novel, and he has helpfully told me about all sorts of lovely difficult revisions I need to make. Yay. In the meantime, I made an absolutely humiliating admission on Facebook, that I've never been high (from marijuana), and needed feedback about a sequence I wrote wherein my narrating character gets that way. Several people immediately jumped up to offer their expertise, kindly not making me feel stupid at all for not knowing whether I'd written it right or not. Matt says they were just happy to offer expertise about something they'd never thought they'd be able to offer expertise about. As usual, he's probably right.

I'm rounding third on Infinite Jest. It's approaching easy to read at this point. I told Matt the other night that part of what's keeping me going is that I really want to know if Wallace's going to create an actual whole out of the sum of this book's many, many, many parts. Thus far, when things get tossed together and a connection makes itself known, it's extremely satisfying; like Magnolia, if a little less visceral. It would be nice to know that everything's really going to hang together, that it's not just going to be a big tangle.

The book is also inspiring. Although I do not in the least want to write like Wallace, I am inspired by him to toss some rules out the window when composing. If on a reread what I've said isn't clear, I can backtrack, but there's no need to work through that clarity on the first pass. Often what comes out raw sets me to something better and clearer, if not quite formal.

I've just started and stopped two different approaches to filling out this post, and was happy with neither of them. This blog is about writing, right? So why am I going on and on (and on) about other stuff instead?

I think it's because the only things in front of me in my writing life right now are revision. Revision of the Greenland book (eventually...), revision of the horror book, revision of a difficult short story. Revision of my original idea for my next book - it's still going to be what I thought it was, at bottom, but I'm thinking of seriously reworking my main supporting character from what he's been for four years or so. I don't want to do any of this revision. I look ahead and I see this slog, this long and yucky process from which good results are not guaranteed and opportunity for despair abounds. Literally every task to which I've set myself when it comes to writing fiction has taken a shorter time than I have budgeted, and all revisions have ultimately been a good idea, so I don't know why I can't just get over it and do what I'm supposed to do. I believe I can sell this horror book, more credibly than I believe I can sell the Greenland book, and I'm all enthusiastic about query letters and synopses and whatnot. But first I have to revise it, I have to get it in shape for test readers, and I'm stuck there, at that idea.

What I'll do is, on Monday I'll sit in front of this very laptop and I'll just get to it. No whining; just action. But on this Sunday morning it feels better to wallow and worry.

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