Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Revisions Done

I just finished my revisions for Mason Dixon: Basketball Disasters and emailed them off to Nancy Hinkel at Knopf/Random House. As always happens, it took me VASTLY less time to do them than it did to dread doing them. When will I ever learn to replace dreading with doing?

Though I do think it might be simply part of the process to spend time in dread, dismal as that may sound. Before I can make revisions on a book, I have to get myself used to the idea of changing my original text, and sometimes even my original conception of how the story should go. Then apparently I have to spend time wondering if I should maybe just give up and throw the whole book away and start over entirely. Maybe that IS what I should be doing? Maybe that is what my editor thinks I should be doing? Maybe she's expecting at the very least a MAJOR overhaul of the book? The kind that should take months to do? But I don't have months to do it. So I just sit and do nothing.

Then time runs out for me. I have a deadline I have to meet. For better or worse, this book is going to be revised in days rather than years. No, in HOURS rather than years. Why don't I start with doing the few, small, specific things that my editor recommended? In this case, set up Mason's initial involvement with basketball so that it doesn't so clearly echo his initial involvement with pets in Mason Dixon: Pet Disasters, and with joining the school choir in Mason Dixon: Fourth Grade Disasters. That means rewriting the first chapter extensively - but not the whole book - and then checking to see that the changes in the first chapter reverberate appropriately through the rest of the book - but not in every single line. This also means rewriting the last chapter to add a new scene in which Nora, so unflappable in the previous two books, finally is flapped. And heightening some mentions of her unflappability previously so that her ultimate flapping carries more weight.

Friends, we are talking now about rewriting mere pages of a 130-page-long book, but in a way that will make a big difference in differentiating the story arc of this book from the story arc of its predecessors, while still keeping the familiar feel that readers seek in the third book in a series.

So it's done, and I've sent it off, and if Nancy Hinkel wants more changes, well, then, I'll make more changes. After sitting paralyzed with dread for a while first.

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