Been spending my writing time the past two weeks beginning revisions on my new novel, Blue Dot, which I’ve been dubbing a horror/sci-fi mash-up. For the uninitiated, I wrote the first draft of Blue Dot in a month during National Novel Writing Month, in which participants take on the challenge of producing a 50,000 word manuscript in 30 days.
Revising a novel is a daunting and exhilarating experience. Exhilarating because it’s hard not to be thrilled by reading over a new creation, discovering some wondrous artifact that you recognize and yet, in mellowing, has taken on its own scent. There’s an undeniable thrill in imagining that what you’ve created is fresh and bold and impossible to put down. Daunting because, as Stephen King puts it, I’m still writing “with the door closed.” No one but me has seen a word of Blue Dot and so, in spite of what I might think about it, and acknowledging that I’m the most biased person in the room and the least likely to know what’s truly wrong with it, its potential as shit that nobody has smelled yet, is very very high.
I envisioned a lean, fast paced novel (Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 was very much on my mind) and the book is mostly supporting this vision as I go back through it. More than ever before, I’m trying to stay out of the way of this one, to let it take whatever form it sees fit, rather than trying to impose my will on it or throttle it until it’s the best book I want it to be. This was one of the unknown benefits of writing something so fast. Its creation was so immediate, so dream like in pace that in many ways it feels like it wrote itself, like I was merely court reporter doing furious transcription. The book wasn’t victim to my prodding literary whims or insecurity. I didn’t have time to wonder whether it was any good or not, nor to worry about whether readers would like it, and in this, the novel, at least with the door still closed, feels liberated. I’ve been cleaning up small matters, inconsistencies in voice and plot, reconciling some over-complications, and trying to make it cohere.
But a novel nobody’s read yet has two lives, and once you’ve given it to others and solicited their feedback, danger runs high. Kill your darlings they say. Then kill them again.
For now, I’m keeping the door closed a little while longer. I’m looking forward to sharing it with some trusted friends soon, and then it’ll be time to sharpen my hatchet and be cold and exacting as I come to terms with all the holes I’ve left in the plot and the characters and begin trying to make the book whole, but for now the reverie of a book that’s still taking shape, becoming its own being with only me to water and nurture it, feels like watching wonderful flowers bloom in slow motion.