Around a certain part of the morning I have to admit that my previous illusions of durability, of toughness, were less a matter of attributes than denial. You can waltz with your demons all you like, as long as you don’t make eye-contact you can pretend they’re just a series of beautiful women in red dresses. You look in their eyes though and you see hunger, a desperate and acquisitive grasping deep in the black of the pupil. You recognize the eyes for your own and then you give it a name and then you are truly dancing with it all and trying your damnedest not to scream.
Be careful when you give things a name.
Isn’t that some old rule of witchcraft? Magic with a K?
So the editing process continues, but slowly. I have one piece of it to re-write and the rest of the first major edit has been completed. It’s one part excision and one part restoration. After that come three more major edits.
I keep waiting for artistic arrogance to take over and carry me the rest of the way. I wonder if there will ever come a point in this thing’s process where I draw a hard line in the sand and say: “That is not my vision.”
I don’t know. Part of the way that I view fiction, a pleasure solely for the reader, means that I have to reach beyond my own preferences for advice on the story. The advice I have been given, I agree with for the most part. It’s not as if I’ve made any of these changes under duress. I find that I trust this person’s view.
Another principle is my desire to avoid the genre ghetto but also the clouds of literary fiction. I want the hearts of readers, not the heads of people who smile and nod at all the inside jokes. At some point I imagine I’ll have to pick a side. The closer I get though, the more I suspect that this divide is something that I’ve invented. I suspect we’re all just trying to tell the stories that we want to hear in the way we think they ought to be heard and the people consuming it get to decide what that story really is, not us. That’s literary. That’s genre. That’s literary for genre. Whatever the fuck that actually means. I imagine that by that point in the process of marketing I’ll be so happy that somebody decided to publish (since we’re dreaming) it that I won’t give a fuck where they put it, as long as it isn’t on my desk at home anymore.
That’s a scary thought, but a freeing one as well. I try to remember it as I work past the cacophony in my head. Show don’t tell, Jesus that’s not a realistic thing that character just did. Fuck you, what do you know about realism? You’re a voice in my head. People are fucking weird! Yeah, but fiction has to make sense, reality doesn’t. Ah, fuck. That quote again. Well what about this? That contradicts this other thing. What other thing? That other thing. Be specific, motherfucker. That thing. I’m sure it’s gonna contradict some other major thing you really like. Thanks, you vague asshole. You’re welcome and you’ve got too many fucking commas in that line. Blow me, I like commas and so does Annie Proulx. You ain’t her, dude.
Yeah. No shit.
Onward we go.