After a month of spotty posting, I feel a little bit like this blog exists again. Though that could end at any time!
I’m feeling really good about revisions. Mostly it just feels good to do something. Revising is very odd. Each revision gets you to within striking distance of the next revision. This is now the third time in six months that I’m seriously reworking this book. I have no doubt that if it sells, it’ll be reworked at least one more time. And during each revision (as well as after the first draft), I always felt like this was the last time. I always felt like after this round, the book would be more or less locked into place. And each time when I looked back on the draft of what I had, I saw new flaws.
It is an odd process. Writers always say that the first draft is just raw material. You put it down on paper, and then you change it. But I’ve never believed it. I think if you don’t have a certain energy in your first draft: the voice, at the very least, then it’s hard to revise that energy into existence. And I still hold to that. I have another book I’ve been trying to revise that I just cannot get a handle on. I honestly think that other book no longer has its animating spirit: I cannot find within it the internal logic that ought to be telling me what this book needs to be.
But Tell Em They’re Amazing still has that logic. At least to my eyes it does. And that makes revision more of a pleasure. It’s fun to scrape away the excess. It’s fun to simplify. To turn subplots into mere suggestions. To turn conversations into asides. To squeeze the book down to a handful of events, spread across a few months. To reduce it to its core relationships, and then to mold those relationships into something that’s cleaner and more sensible. In this draft each time I find myself trying to make things dramatic or complicated, I tell myself they don’t need to be. They can be simple instead. Complex and contradictory character desires can manifest themselves in simple actions, if you let them.
Writing this book has taught me a lot, though I wonder sometimes if those lessons might not make me a less successful writer. Mostly it’s taught me how to tell smaller and more personal stories. How to focus on relationships and characters. How to build plots that are no bigger than the bare minimum you need in order to tell the story you want to tell.