Monday, October 16, 2006

rate of consumption

Recently, at a school visit, a young student rushed up to me and said, “I read The Year of the Dog in 2 hours!”
“That’s wonderful,” I said to her, but inside I felt a strange sense of shock. Gosh, that book took me over 4 years to write, but now takes only two hours to read. The rate of consumption is a lot faster than production!

I suppose the surprise was greater because I am knee-deep in my revisions for novel #2. I’m on my 5th revision, which actually doesn’t sound that bad. But it’s the 5th “official” one, which means it’s the 5th time I’ve gone through it with my editor…the times that I’ve gone through it with myself is about, oh, I don’t know, 133?

The hardest part about working on something for 133 times is that when I get to around revision 131, I start thinking, “Oh, this will be fine. As long as it makes sense, no one will care…just get it done.” But there’s always that other part, the side that wants to get every word is right, that makes me stay up until 5 in the morning and haunts me when I try to concentrate on other things, that pushes me to revision 132.

And I think all authors are like that. Because we want those two hours of reading to be the best we can possibly make them.


Anonymous said...

Grace, even if someone reads your book in two hours, it will likely stay with them much longer.

Of course, I cringe when someone flips through a picturebook that I've lost sleep, cancelled visits and missed important family events over, so I know how you feel.

alvinaling said...

Grace, just one more teensy weensy revision, and you're done!

I think for a kid, reading someone's book quickly is actually a compliment--it shows that they're really interested in the story and want to find out what happens. Then again, you hope they'll read it again and again and sometimes read slowly to savor each word.