Monday, August 06, 2007

Revisionist

Went to Loo Town's first annual Irish Fest this weekend. I had a blast. There was a U2 cover band that outdid themselves and of course, lots of beer. It made me think of my Irish buddies, many of whom I have not talked with in a long while.

Salinte.

I've long been a fan of The Great Gatsby, so I've always been interested in Fitzgerald's writing process, which was legendary. He never really stopped revising; he was even making changes to the page proofs of the novel at the printer. I feel a little bit of kinship with him. I'm an endless tinkerer. Maybe it's because I lack the clarity most writers possess; they arrive at solutions much faster than I do. I know when I get deep into my stories, as I certainly have with the Big Damn Epic, for years now, I'm not able to see the forest for the trees. The book has evolved as I have evolved as a writer; most other (sane) writers would have abandoned it as a first project, a failed project, but it's a work of passion and the story, as silly as it may sound, is sound; I haven't been, obviously.

My friend Sugu - who really needs to be update you with his site - could you tell you stories about the many revisions this thing has gone through. He's been in Japan for the last couple years, so he hasn't even been privy to the most recent; it's always been the first 100 pages. After that, the story works pretty well and has remain fundamentally unchanged since about 2003 (good lord! It's been that long?). I have never known who to start the story with. It has many characters, all worthy central protagonists, and many points of view; of course it has a central character, but starting explicitly with her has been difficult. She is alien, difficult to describe, and she's a child - the early drafts have a definite YA aspect. But she's the only place I can start. Part of the solution - one hopes - has been to make her a little older. She's actually a couple centuries old, but she appears and acts like a teenager, and was even younger before; the other part has just been to give in to the fact that I have to explain some things upfront. I like subtlety in writing, I like showing, not telling, but it's not a movie. I can't get away with visually expressing the exposition like I could in a film. I have to explain, right away, this is what she is. This is where they are and that is where they came from. This is why this stuff is happening and if I were a better writer, a Joyce or a Kurosawa, I would know how to do it without doing it.

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