12 December, 2010

As my plastic surgeon always said, 'If you gotta go, go with a smile'

Well, I've enjoyed my first couple of days off in a while.

The school I went to was a miserable three week experience called WLC. Basically it's a school where you learn to be an E-5, such as it is. Long hours, stupid routines, lousy food. I passed, but I didn't exactly distinguish myself. At least it's over with.

This afternoon, I started editing the book. For probably the first time since I wrote it, I read the first chapter and made marks for revision. Over thirteen marks for the first paragraph alone. It was a short chapter - it was a short paragraph! - and my heart sunk when realizing how much effort was going to be required for the whole book. Even on the straightforward level of spelling, grammar and sentence structure, the process has similarities to breaking malformed bones so that they can heal properly. There's a lot of bones to be broken.

I must admit, I genuinely don't remember much about the story. I know the gist of what happened, but the pace of writing meant I wasn't going to be able to retain much. So I perform immediate action wherever I see a need, polishing as much as possible and keeping the overall shape of the book in mind. It's quite detail-intensive, and as stated, I don't remember a whole lot. Now I have to keep in mind what I intended, what I had worked out that doesn't show up on the page, what the characters are doing, what they think they're doing, and all the overlapping densities of context I've tried to make use of.

It's about a fictional leader of a fictional country. It occured to me weeks ago that a large part of the book was nothing but exposition, since I was trying to work in the history and culture of a nation that doesn't exist alongside the fictional lead characters. That's a lot to keep track of.

An advantage I have is that it worked for most of the chapters. They were written in one sitting, and I was mostly successful at making them self-contained as they extended stories-in-progress. Plans I had abandoned and elements that I had forgotten about suddenly resurfaced when their time came. I don't think there will be a great deal of inconsistency in the plot or themes, so most of the second draft is polishing.

A disadvantage I have is that not all of the first draft was 100% written. There's a chapter or two with gaping holes I never got around to writing, and another chapter or two that is largely fragments that did not work very well as self-contained chapters. And there's another chapter or two that are just plain short. The inconsistencies and knots I do find will have to be untangled in these parts-yet-unwritten, and I'm not looking forward to figuring those out.

For now, it's snowing outside and I've heard that everything is closed tomorrow. That will be good. It's a way to take leave without losing any leave days.

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