The first draft has ended. The rewrite approaches.
Flight of the Vajra, draft 1, finished, as of 7:30 or so Sunday night.
Now the hard part.
First, I have to survive the hurricane -- I've buttoned everything up in anticipation of it -- and then I can sit down and begin the rewrite process. I've mentioned before what this will entail.
It felt downright strange (in a lovely way, really) to type THE END and just before it see words you had ruminated about in one form or another for months. The emotional end of the book, rather than the logical end, was what mattered most, and while I had sketched out a general route to get there, I wanted to make discoveries along the way. I've found there are some discoveries that can only be made between writing one line and the next, that simply cannot (at least for me) be teased out at an outline level.
The rewrite process is going to involve a lot of bookkeeping, as I also noted. I always felt a little uneasy about accruing a note pile that was at least a big as the book itself -- that always seemed like a misdirection of energy -- but I also have the feeling many of the things I jotted down are redundant or no longer valid.
Some of them were "blind alley" notes, things I wrote down when it seemed possible the story might veer in a different direction but ultimately never did. They won't get used, of course, but it's fascinating to page through them and see hints of all the different things that could have been. But that doesn't mean they have to find a home in the work somewhere. Not every director's cut is longer.
The technology of writing makes it easier to reach for the stars -- but it can't make up for the will to do the reaching.
Some more thoughts on the second draft process.
I can't deny how much easier all this is with a computer, although as I noted before, if I'd been dealing with nothing but a typewriter and a notebook I might well have managed just as easily because I wouldn't have known any differently, and would have made the best of what I had.
That brought back to mind how others have speculated that the advent of tools like the word processor made it all the easier for the writer to grind out dreck, or to add uneeded length to a story. Evidently those people never read Pamela or Vanity Fair (not the magazine), but let's look past that cheap shot.
The peculiar difficulties of the second draft, especially for a writer in the 21st century.
I can now report that I'm within spitting distance of the end of the first draft of Flight of the Vajra. Don't pop the bubbly yet; there's a long way to go.
I've never written anything this long before -- 350,000 words or so -- and so I had to change my work habits in ways that were humbling and frustrating.
What I listen to when I should be working, and what I listen to when I am actually working.
[Updated 2019/02/09 with new entries.]
Someone asked me the other day, "Do you have a playlist of music for Flight of the Vajra?" The short answer is yes, and at some point I'll post it here, but that gave me an opportunity to talk about the odd relationship I have with music in my writing.
The other books I've created do all have playlists to go with them as well, but in every single case I can think of, I haven't listened to the music in them while actually writing the book. I listen to the music in them at other times -- walking around, for instance. As soon as I sit down, I have to put on either nothing at all, or one of a small list of "pre-cleared" music titles which I can listen to without getting hopelessly distracted. The music in those "for work" playlists are generally totally unlike anything in the "for the book itself" playlists, both in terms of sharing no common material and having no common mood.
Who's up for swapping their PC for a typewriter and a looseleaf binder?
The other week I scored a replacement typewriter ribbon for my Remington portable, an artifact a good decade older than I am and still in functional shape. My original version of this post was a dig at how this fifty-year-old machine works better than some of the PCs I've had that didn't even last a tenth that long, but even I have to see clean through the chicanery and half-truth in such a statement. Sure, the typewriter still runs, and I get good results with it, but the only way I'd write a 350,000 word manuscript on it (like the one I'm pounding out right now) is if the lights went out, Revolution-style.
That thought inspired another one: what if I, with my current headful of ideas, had been living in, say, 1975 or so, with nothing but that typewriter (or that level of technology generally)?
This page contains an archive of posts in the category Flight of the Vajra for the month of October 2012.
New York City
Other Lives Of The Mind