Oh man, is revising difficult.
Well, not revising itself – though that is difficult, it’s not as difficult as this: reading what I’ve written.
I feel like a traitor saying that. As though I’m betraying writerhood and the Author’s Union is going to come down hard on my speaking out. I’ll end up with a pile of melted pens or a vowel-less keyboard.
I mean, aren’t authors supposed to be in love with their own writing? Their writing – whether it be poems, stories, essays, or novels – is the equivalent of their children, and how can you not love your child? How can you even admit that your child is not as beautiful as the one next door.
For me, my desire to read what I’ve written is inversely proportional to said what-I’ve-written’s length. Poetry, sure, I can read poem after poem of mine without curling into a little ball of shame and abhorrence at my own failure to string significant words together. As I said, it has to do with the length. A poem, no matter how badly I feel about it, will pass through my eyes in a minute or so.
But it’s not all about length. I have vastly more experience writing poetry than I do fiction, so I’m more confident in what I’ve written, and my first drafts tend to be more polished and formed than the equivalent story, essay, or novel.
Reading a novel is like having a conference with a life advisor (Those exist, don’t they?) who is going over your life moment by moment highlighting every mistake you’ve ever made. Because that’s what it’s like reading my own work: I see the flaws. Oh, it’s true, I see the good stuff, too, but these supposed virtues aren’t really good because they’re surrounded by the flaws.
Okay, that’s all fine and good, but how does that relate to revising GOD’S TEETH?
Mostly, what I want to talk about now is just a simple realization. Said realization: It has been very difficult for me to get myself revising GOD’S TEETH because it’s been very difficult for me to get myself to read it.
That realization means little without the corollary realization: I enjoy revising THE DREAM THIEF because I enjoy re-reading THE DREAM THIEF.
In writing GOD’S TEETH, I knew the overall plot and the arc I wanted. Each chapter moved forward along that path and, I realize now, a lot of that movement was summary. I didn’t see it at the time, because action was happening, but instead of providing scenes for the reader to be involved in, I was telling the story at a narrative remove, the camera far above the ground, and what the camera’s showing being described to you by a friend.
In writing THE DREAM THIEF, I wrote in a way that kept my interest, that was what I would want to read. With GOD’S TEETH, I was telling a story I would want to read, but not infusing that readability into my writing.
Granted, the narrator in THE DREAM THIEF allows me wide-range in playing with narrative and voice and time. When I came to a point where my interest was starting to flag, or where I wasn’t sure what to write next, I jumped narrative ship and began to create stories within stories, the utter joy with invention dragging both me and the plot forward through the book.
Now, with this realization under my belt, I’m ready to dive back into GOD’S TEETH. I can’t use the same techniques I did in my other novel because the narrator is different, but what I need to do is find those moments in the novel where the summary can be exploded into action.
Of course, before I do that, I have to read it again.
And you can join me!
Starting Tuesday, I’m going to follow a vast population of YA bloggers by putting teasers in my blog.
This Tuesday: GOD’S TEETH!