Extreme Makeover

May 04, 2007

I’m nearly finished with a first draft of Snowfall at Willow Lake. The thing is a complete mess–but I love it. I love Sophie and Noah and their chemistry and their conflict. I love the way the plot unspools in this story of redemption. This story has good bones–a sturdy plotline, strong characters, an appealing milieu. But I’m looking at it and thinking, oy. Do you ever need a makeover. And not just a cosmetic surface buffing. This will have to be gutted, taken apart, reconstructed and polished.

chair - before

Today my chair came back from being reupholstered. Initially, the thing was a $5 Rotary Auction treasure that I brought home because there was something about it that I liked–the lines. The bone structure. Still, to be honest, it was not a thing of beauty. It was frayed and sagging and badly in need of a makeover.

chair - after

It was a lot of work. But worth the effort.

For me, “revision” is a literal act. I reimagine the story, even if it means dismantling it from the ground up. I think every writer has a horror of deleting and discarding changes. One way I get myself over it is by reminding myself that even the deletions have their purpose. The text that was cut had its uses at one time. It was written for a reason and led me somewhere. There, isn’t that soothing?

Elie Wiesel said, “Writing is not like painting where you add. It is not what you put on the canvas that the reader sees.  Writing is more like a sculpture where you remove, you eliminate in order to make the work visible. Even those pages you remove somehow remain.”


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