Sunday, July 24, 2011

from the BRG archives: 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.

Originally published October 16, 2006

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