26 May 2009

Revisionist History


On Friday I took the dive and bought this, so that for my to-and-fro NoVa bus rides on Saturday morning and Monday evening I could work at revising Hereafter. And I did! I did done revised some! WHO-RAY! It was a great disappointment to discover that typing on a bus is incredibly awkward. The space between rows made it just a bit too tight to comfortably cock my elbows, even given the rather horizontally inclined nature of my new purchase. I muscled through, though, to the detriment of my seat partner and I'm sure my sperm count. Some sacrifices must be made for great art, after all.

Plus, revision was not a terrible experience. This is in spite of a number of other factors going against me at the time (primary amongst these being the curiously intense and persistent allergies I'm experiencing) and also in the face of my trenchant antipathy for the revision process. Having a new toy always helps in some way, and this was no exception. It seems the much-reviled Vista has a viewing option for scrolling through open windows as if they were a deck of cards -- an enormously useful feature when one's scenes are all saved in separate documents. I made quick work of a revised outline of scenes, and so had a bit of a structure for finding a starting point and specifying which scenes needed the most attention.

The biggest changes were the complete disposal of one scene, and the removal of a character from another. Also, my gastroenterologist is going through some major changes, becoming far more prickly and reserved (and hopefully super-dryly funny). The overhaul has begun, and it seems as though as long as I don't get stuck on the idea of how much of an overhaul it's bound to be, and just keep fixing and tweaking one thing at a time, we're going to get there. Eventually.

That having been said, I am thus far utterly un-thrilled with any of my actual writing. It seems as though all I'm doing is solving logistical problems, without invoking too much truth, beauty and/or humor. I probably need to talk to more playwrights to learn some coping methods with this perceived issue. I tend to assume it's a personal problem, my revision writing coming out stale, but that's pretty ridiculous when I say (type) it aloud. Surely some other authors have had to grapple with this. Friends Avi and Christina may have some helpful advice on the matter. Perhaps you, Dear Reader, do as well . . . ?

What is amazing to me is that I've found that sweet spot of distance from the original writing that allows me to make big changes without losing my belief in the story. It still feels like a worthy effort, yet I can see where it needs (not inconsiderable) help. And both without quite knowing where it's going to end up. With age come some benefits.

Now if I just had a little more cash flow to regularly upgrade to train rides . . .

2 comments:

monique said...

I don't know anything about Hereafter, but you should make the GI doctor a pompous git who won't consider that his patients might actually have a clue. Because in my experience that's the only kind you can find.

Er. Sorry. I left my bitterness untucked again.

Jeff Wills said...

Funny you should say that, because that was my original character concept. The problem now is fleshing her out so she has actual reasons for being such a git!