Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Get Me Rewrite
I’m somewhat settled into my new place—there’s still stuff to do, but mostly the hurly burly is done, the Ikea battle is lost and won. My little boy knows nothing about the metaphorical significance of a do-it-yourself big boy bed, but he does know it has space stuff all over it. I had to get settled as quickly as possible—I’m getting the editorial letter on the final draft of my book in the next couple of days, and it needs to be hurly-burlied in two weeks. I’m hoping the edits are manageable—tighten here, bring this out here, stop being so damned abstruse here. Manageable would be nice. Though there’s nothing wrong with a little abstruseness, here and there.
I remember starting this book in January. I had, as I always do—just the barest strokes of ideas—“The Snow Queen,” growing up and stuff, a girl who loses her best friend to the ice and snow and would go to any length to save him. It was going to be about how you lose friends as you grow up, but in this case someone’s going to go get her friend back. I thought that was beautiful. I had main characters that I knew a couple things about. I had ideas of the things that might happen, the things I might be saying. I had things, you see—and we need things, sometimes, to get us through the days. I plunged in. I wrote the book. I was wrong about my things. The story, you see, tells itself, and cares not a whit for your things. I thought it would end happily ever after, but I learned that in order to save someone sometimes you have to lose them.
It is not unlike this new life I am starting. I had broad strokes of ideas about the main character—a single mom who lives in Minneapolis and supports her child by writing and teaching. She drinks more beer than I expected. I had some idea of who the secondary characters would be, but you never know who is going to show up in your house to wield an allen wrench. I thought I had some plot elements, some ideas of what I was trying to say. I had things, and we need things, sometimes. But the universe has already shown it does not give a whit for my things. There’s no room for revisions, no brilliant editor to give me twenty-one pages of single-spaced guidance. I should be used to it, though, because this is the way I write—I plunge in. For better or for worse.