The reasons for this blog: 1. To provide basic author information for students, teachers, librarians, etc. (Please see sidebar) 2. I think out loud a lot as I work through writing projects, and I'm trying to dump most of those thoughts here rather than on my friends.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Was thinking about the time I spent yesterday going over and over the same thing. If I had to watch somebody else doing what I did yesterday, I'd say they were neurotic and obsessive and have some kind of self-sabotage thing going on where they are subconsciously making sure they never actually finish a book. But I felt I made progress yesterday, writing my same 1000 or so words over and over again.

I spent much time redoing certain paragraphs. There were a few that were really causing me trouble. I realized, thinking about it later, that the object of rewriting a paragraph for hours usually would be coming up with a perfect paragraph, one that a writer would be proud of. But these paragraphs are very workmanlike, and my object isn't to perfect them, exactly, but to make them disappear. I need the reader not to even notice that s/he's reading words. I need the meaning to come out and the words to fall into the background.

Here is one sentence and some of its versions:

But the sight of Father's cut had momentarily frozen him in that wary, alert stillness rabbits get when they hear something move in the brush.

But Simon had seen the slashed arm, too. He had gone still, his eyes wary and alert and fixed on Father, who had never lifted a hand to Simon, nor even his voice.

But Simon had seen the slashed arm, too: he sat very still, his eyes wary, alert, and fixed on Father. Father, who had never lifted a hand to Simon, nor his voice.

But Simon saw the slashed arm, too; he sat very still, his eyes wary, alert, and fixed on Father. He could not shake the habit of expecting explosions, even from Father, who had never so much as raised his voice at Simon in the entire seven years he'd lived here.

I expect to be doing this sort of thing today, too--only on chapter 2. I'm not so neurotic and obsessive that I can't leave imperfection and move on.

I realized yesterday that sometimes the point of writing is to stamp images into the reader's brain, to be evocative. Other times the point is to be invisible, to drop out of sight in service to the story or characters. Funny, but I think maybe the first one is considered to have more literary value. Not sure why. Maybe because it tends to last longer in the reader's head?

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