Ode to Imperfection

We’re in the middle of our first big round of exams and papers this semester. Some assignments I’ve truly enjoyed grading; others…uhm, not so much.

When I haven’t been swamped by grading, I’ve managed to steal slivers of time to continue revisions of Eolyn, in preparation for releasing a second edition early next year.

I’ve really enjoyed sinking back into the world of Eolyn’s youth. There are characters in the first book who never made it to book two or three, so it’s nice to spend some time with them again. And with all due humility, I wrote a darn good novel. It’s fun to read it all again.

Very little in terms of the story line will be changed for the new edition. Actually, nothing in the story will change. But there are some “delivery” issues in the book, places where events are not communicated as well as they could be. Part of this has to do with economy of wording. I tend to use more words than necessary to get an idea across. I like to think I’m better now at avoiding this. Certainly I’m more able to recognize spots weighted down by wordiness, and edit accordingly.

It’s also true that having completed the third novel, it’s easier to see exactly what needs to be set up and how in the first novel. For the second edition, I’m deleting a handful of moments that in the long run don’t lead anywhere, while heightening the focus on events that are truly important. There are also spots here and there where I’m infusing more emotional intensity.

A set of middle chapters are particularly muddled. The muddled middle, if you will. That knot has been on my conscience since we published the first edition. Yes, I knew they were muddled when the book first went to press, but we were up against a deadline, and the show had to go on. So it’s a true luxury in a way to come back to fix things that I’ve long felt needed fixing.

So far I’ve shaved off about 2000 words of the novel, while adding or enhancing certain scenes. And I’ve only been through the first dozen or so chapters!

Not everyone likes revising their work. Once I mentioned to a fellow author how much I really enjoy deleting unnecessary words when I revise a manuscript. His response was, “Deleting makes me feel bad, because I think I shouldn’t have written all those extra words in the first place.”

I wonder if that’s the central unpleasantness of revisions for a lot of people: Confronting the truth of our imperfect works.

But we shouldn’t punish ourselves so much.

It’s okay to write and then delete, reword, remold. Stories are our playgrounds; words are the building blocks that add dimension and form to that space. If we stack them only to knock them down again, why should anyone care? That’s the whole point of the game.

Imperfection has its own charm, and in the end, is much more interesting than perfection could ever be. If everything we made was perfect, we’d never have the satisfaction of knocking down our little worlds to make room for another new start.

4 thoughts on “Ode to Imperfection

  1. In Italian salon a few years ago, at Guido and Barbara Weiss’s home, where we read aloud we were reading In the garden of the Finzi-Continis by Giorgio Bassani and the group had a number of different editions. Apparently Giorgio messed with the text a number of times, so I think we had three different editions, in the original Italian. This drove some people in our group nuts, but I found it fascinating to hear the differences, though I never got a good take on which editions were newer and which older.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Cool. I guess that means I’m in good company. A couple years ago in DC I got to see an exhibition of Van Gogh that featured several different versions of the same works. I thought it was very interesting, too, to see something of his process as an artist.


  2. I am envious of your sojourn back into your novel. Considering all I’ve learned since Finder released, I’d love to go back and give it another revision. I just might, one day. Soon?

    Liked by 1 person

Comments are closed.

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: