Wednesday, April 21, 2010

House Remodeling & Novels

Revising a novel is not unlike remodeling a bathroom in your house.  Right?

First, there's the initial exuberance. You wholeheartedly start clearing out dated fixtures, knocking down walls. (In novelspeak that translates to: getting rid of characters and scenes, re-plotting, deleting.) At night, you lie in bed happily reviewing the day's latest events--isn't it great that the old floor has been pulled up? At last, that protrusion in the wall has been ripped away. (Novelspeak: thank God I got rid of that subplot.)

Another week goes by and that flush of adventure shifts.  You see progress but it's not obvious. The walls are down but when (oh when?) will the new ones go up? And once they're up, how many days before plaster completely dries?

More details.  Screws.  Lights.  Paint. The project's simply not done.

Sometimes you want all the work people and craftsmen to go away because you need a break from the crowds.  (In the case of your novel revision: you want those messy sentences and paragraphs to disappear on their own. You don't want to have to kick them out yourself.) Then, there's the electrician kneeling in your hallway, twisting wires, going back and forth between the electrical panel and wall plugs. Honestly, can't you have a few hours of silence again? The plumber is sawing old pipes. Scraping loud and irritating.  The house stinks.

Soon, you wonder: will this end?  You may even want your old bathroom back because you have laundry to do and your new washer/dryer hasn't arrived yet.  Dirty socks are taking over the kitchen.  Dinner plates are covered in micro dust.  Everything's upended. Everything, in fact, feels uncertain. But it's too late to turn back.  So you plod on, one day at a time, toward your remodeling goal--and then, a breakthrough.  One day, you're finished.

Finally, a new bathroom.

Finally, a revised book.

So, I'm celebrating with these yellow flowers.
What are you revising or remodeling this spring?