I just finished rereading a draft of my book this morning, and was overall pleased with it. Of course, there were those chapters with which I was not so pleased. Not pleased at all, truthfully. It was sort of painful to read them, all those words so thoughtfully chosen doing absolutely nothing to help the book.
You might think reading those chapters that I had somehow forgotten how to write. In fact, I had not. In fact, if you were to look closely at these chapters you would see that all the skill deployed in the chapters that did work was deployed here as well. Why then, would it be so unpleasant to read?
It reminded me of watching, say, Hamlet, staged by a skilled troupe of actors. What would happen if another skilled actor stepped onto the stage in an old T-shirt portraying Stanley Kowalski from A Streetcar Named Desire? What if it was Marlon Brando himself come back from the dead to insert Stanley into this Shakespearean tragedy? Would all Brando’s skill make his appearance any less irritating and bizarre?
Indeed it would not. Skill is only useful when in service to what belongs. Hard to remember sometimes as we fret over words and scenes and rising tension. In another book those un-working chapters might be quite lovely, but not in the one I had written. This, then, becomes what we call rewriting, finding the parts to make whole what it is not incorrect, but merely incomplete.
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