There’s a lot of building going on in my neighborhood. Just yesterday, I saw a male trying to get construction materials into one of the new homes he was putting together for his mate. He was having a few problems though. An eight-inch piece of wood wouldn’t go through a one-inch diameter hole on the front of the house. His efforts knocked the wood loose and he dove to retrieve it. When he came back up, he tried again. And again. And again.
He stood on the roof analyzing the situation. Even he could see it wasn’t going to work. I mentally telegraphed him to turn sideways on his next attempt. This needed a three-dimensional approach.
On his next retrieval mission, he returned with different solution — a smaller. piece of wood He also tried another technique. Instead of holding the wood in the middle, he grabbed it on the end. After a few tries, he slid it through the hole.
While the little guy worked, I reflected. I had become discouraged over the last couple of months. My book isn’t what I want it to be. It’s not bad, but OK isn’t good enough. If as its creator I have lost interest, how can I expect my readers to care.
Like the builder, I analyzed the situation. What is wrong and why? My critique group has suggested improvements. Whereas they are good — and much needed — ideas, they are two-dimensional solutions to a three-dimensional problem. My novel needs more depth. At the group’s urging, I am writing more quickly than well. The first drafts are abysmal; the second are OK. I am a slow writer. I write and revise. And revise. And revise. And revise. Each time, I add more context, substitute words, cut verbiage, more fully draw characters. I’m chapters ahead of my submission to the group, so I will slow down to write the way I need to.
Even the little house wren doesn’t get it right the first time. Although he figured out how to get the twig through the birdhouse opening, the result looks haphazard. I doubt it has the must-haves that the missus requires. It’s why he will build several nests, each having its merits, none with everything. No house or book will be perfect, but with a little work, each becomes better and something to love.
Every piece I submit has been revised close to 100 times, if I had to guess. And they still have mistakes. It’s in that revision process that the writing happens. It’s when I’m reaching for the dictionary and thesaurus that I feel like I’m writing and settle down, start thinking, moving paragraphs, and deleting.
I, too, revise to the point I never feel like anything is conclusively finished. And I have 245 pages of a novel but am still trying to decide what my basic conflicts are. Lots of detailed character development and setting but what is my point? My writer’s critique group is also helpful but I think it’s difficult for them to see the big picture when we’re doing this chapter by chapter.
Also, don’t want to sound picky but check your spelling of persistence.
Our critique group also has commented on the difficulty of reading chapter by chapter with weeks in between. It makes it all the more difficult, since we all continually revise. We have suggested that as each of us completes his or her book, we submit it in toto. And thanks for the spell check. The one on the computer missed it the error.
For me, too, it is in the revisions that I am most creative. I read recently that one of the most vital roles of writing is in making one think. I think that is true on many levels.