Thursday, April 14, 2011

Revision woes


[Well, my post about revision is lost in cyberspace. So now I’m typing in Word (trying to get into that habit, rather than typing directly into the blog), making an effort to remember the post while it’s still fresh in my mind.]

While I was away, I actually dipped a toe tip into revision.

Revision is terrifying. Even more scary than writing the first draft. At least, it seems that way now.

After all, everyone tells you the first draft doesn’t have to be perfect. “Don’t worry about getting it perfect. Just get it written down on paper.”
But not so with revision, where the goal is perfection.
So I tell myself that, even in revision, perfection isn’t achieved all at once. It comes in stages, each stage nearer the unreachable goal of perfection.

There’s always more research that can be done, for one thing.
I think I need to immerse myself more in the ancient literature, for example.
Also, there are sites that I need to visit. (Real sites, not websites!) I need to ride down to Dendera temple on the river, for example. And I have to get myself back to the beautiful sites right here around Luxor.
And it’s an inspiration just to look inside a “picture book” and browse through pictures of anything ancient Egyptian. But I can’t do that while my books are in storage.

I think I need to do a few funky things with chronology, here and there. Insert a couple of chapters that don’t fit neatly into a single time slot. (More about these “oh, by the way” chapters later, perhaps.)

Then there are the camel skeletons (see my March post.) All those bits and pieces which didn’t find a home in the first draft. They need to go in somewhere, but you’re not sure where. They’re flying and fluttering inside and around your head like a flock of bats, or like the playing cards at the end of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

Revision has so many bits and pieces involved. Nothing like working more or less straight through the first draft. (Although doing a printout and working through is probably the next step.)
I tell myself it’s like doing a jigsaw puzzle. Bit by bit, with time and perseverance, the pieces will fit together somehow, even if some of them have to go in unlikely places. And the pieces that don’t fit, at the very end? Well, they probably belong in a totally different puzzle.

No more time to revise this post—although I might revisit it later. I want to move on to some posts about getting back to Egypt.

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