I mean yes, it’s pushing my progress bar up, and we all know progress bars only go “up” or “down” so, techincally, this is a case of “full steam ahead” but …
Maybe I should start somewhere else, actually …
So this afternoon I have been working on my chapter summarising for the second revision of Tallulah. It’s going well; I’ve got new toys to play with in an old playpen, and that feels very right. So much of what I’ve already got is actually perfectly fine, and just wants a bit of rearranging and recolouring to fit together in the way I want them to.
The reason why I’m thinking around is more appropriate than ahead is because of this focus on rearrangement as opposed to what I’d call “changes”; most of this story is going to stay the same in terms of its content, plot etc., but the story is changing, because its voice is undergoing a transformation – hitting puberty I guess – and while many events are staying the same, they’re being shifted around and given different emphasis to what they currently have. Some scenes will be filled-in more, some will be pared-down so that they take up less affective space. I’m recognising that the emotional impact of this story is a limited resource, and that I need to manage it carefully, and therefore that’s very much what I’m attempting to do with this revision: to re-negotiate the emotional stakes and how they’re offered to the audience, not so much what they are.
Although, yes, there is going to be some of that. I can’t just move things around; certain scenes may have to go altogether – I can think of a few – that I kept in for the first and only revision I’ve done so far because they approximated the emotional link that I needed between one scene/plot-point and another, if I twisted them a bit and packaged them a bit differently. And while that repackaging is exactly what I’m aiming to do with this second revision, I’m also going to be cutting a lot more ruthlessly, though not before thoroughly going through everything and identifying why it needs to go (or stay).
It is odd to do what you want to do and then find out that you don’t actually want to do it. Useful as well, but very odd. You’re supposed to know these things innately, aren’t you? You’re supposed to know not only what you want, but that you want it, as opposed to just liking the idea. But I suppose I should definitely know better by now, particularly when it comes to writing. I can’t count the number of times I’ve danced this same dance to this same tune, and that’s with this novel alone. It’s been a long three years, and I’m still going, and so much of it is the same. This revision is very much the same as the last revision in terms of content; I’m just looking to revise toward a different final product. Every task you can systematise is iterative to a large degree. One more reason this feels like going “around” rather than “ahead”.
But I know that it’s still going ahead, however it feels to me. And that’s good enough. I don’t have to feel it to be able to do it.