Sunday, September 3, 2017

The Draft is Dead. Long Live the Novel.


After wringing my hands over my keyboard for three winters, and occasionally lowering them onto the keys to type, I completed the first draft of my first novel last March. No sooner had a I finished that draft as my summer sailing life consumed my every waking moment.

Starting tomorrow,  with sailing waning, I have carved out three days to read -- for the first time in five months -- what I wrote. It’s the beginning of the revision process, which I expect will take me all fall, all winter.

Certain things I already know. The sister isn’t present enough in the story. She should be. Even though she will remain, by design, off stage, she still needs to be present in Felix’s mind. That will happen through a series of letters that Felix writes to her. He will write them, roll them up, slip them into a bottle, cork the bottle, and throw it into the sea. Over the summer, I have drafted those letters. I look forward to refining them and figuring out where to insert them into the story.

Other characters, as much as I loved writing about them, I will have to read with an objective mind to see if they contribute significantly to the story. Are they Rosencrantz and Guildenstern who provide a mirror to Felix, or are they just a distraction? I look forward to seeing what I think.

In places, I already know I didn’t go deep enough into portraying Felix’s pain of loneliness and feelings of abandonment. And similarly, in other passages, I need to be bolder in portraying the depths of his passion for the woman with whom he struggles to consummate a relationship.

But mostly, I look forward to returning to the lives of all of these characters to whom I had become so close for almost three years. I love them all. I look forward to spending time with them again. I look forward to them telling me, “Hey, in that one passage, you didn’t get me right. Here’s who I really am and here’s how you could better portray my personality. My wants. My vulnerabilities. My shame. My anger. My struggle to figure out who I am.”

In the photo, you will see my “Compass of Want.” I have written about it in my previous blog. The compass was a gift from my daughter and it was one of the very few items that survived the fire that destroyed my ship and almost destroyed a seven-year-dream I had to voyage. Before the fire, the compass was a reminder to listen to my most inner self. After the fire, it reminded me to listen even closer.

I put it on my manuscript so that I remember, tomorrow morning, to be within my most inner self as I spend time with my characters and the craft of writing.