Derry, Northern Ireland

Derry, Northern Ireland
A book I'm working on is set in this town.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Rewriting, again

Before I hit the bed, last night, I had more thoughts about what I'd it's back to rewrite mode. I also noticed the bit of story I put up on yesterday's post is out-dated. I now have Brendan seeing Joanna earlier than he tells her in it; he first notices her when he's twelve years old and had just finished working on a taxi and was washing his filthy hands in water in the gutter. I'm going to find a lot of that throughout this draft...once I get it done. But the whole point of this first draft is to find out what Brendan did and when he did ti. Rewriting can take care of the rest.

My problem is, I'll rewrite my work to the point of madness trying to get it right. On "Desert Land", which is just a 4000 word short story, I redid that a good 20 times before I was willing to set it aside. And "David Martin" has been rewritten at least a dozen times over. I go through my work and keep finding things that are either repetitious or in the wrong place or out of order or that were changed in one part of the story but not another or just aren't well-phrased (and don't get me started on typos I keep finding).

For example -- a lot of what I did yesterday is going to be heavily reworked because I want to intensify the dreaminess...the surreality, as it were...of the action while still keeping it coherent for the reader. Brendan can tell his story in his own vague way, but it can't be that vague for the person following it, because they need to be a part of Brendan's psyche...and deep within that, things that aren't normally said or referenced ARE understood by his sub-and-un-conscious mind, so they need to be understood in that way by the person reading.

I think the most liberating bit of this writing process came when I realized I don't have to be precise on everything Brendan does as a child, because he wouldn't think to comment on things like what he had for breakfast or what clothes he wore or specific places he went to unless they meant something special to him. He'd just make quick vague references that only add to the detail of his existence but don't require explanation. I'd still have to know a lot of this stuff, but only for him to not pay attention to. That's why I'm still researching -- so I can fill in details that are necessary as I come across them. And if I don't find what I need, I'm building resources in NI to ask.

Just for fun, I discovered "War & Peace" has 560,000 words in the English translation. In Russian, it has 450,000. Right now I'm at 106,000 and thinking I'll hit 200K before I'm done, so I'm nothing compared to Tolstoy. But then again...he was Russian aristocracy, so he had the time to write as he pleased (and the ego to go with it). Still...using him as my guide might be better for me, after all. Best to aim high and far; never know where you'll wind up, that way.

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