Thursday, February 24, 2011

All About Me: Cocke & Bull Update

Last night I typed up the rewritten diary excerpts into the MS of Cocke & Bull (I dislike the construction of this sentence already but I'll forge bravely onward), fussed about with some of the transitional passages and printed out the changed pages. Now, I think, that part of the revisions is done. Done-and-done. Done with, as some folk say ungrammatically. I might be one of those folks, but I deny it. Where?

Okay, so Father John Dowd's diary entries have been rewritten and a thousand or so additional words have found their way into the narrative. Now it's onward with the Complete Read, wherein I start at page 1 and work my way through to page Last and mark things up as I go, as the winds of near-brilliance guide me. Hopefully I won't see anything that's impossibly stupid that will require weeks of labor to repair. It feels pretty solid as-is. So what's the point of going through the whole thing again? Well, my purpose is two-fold:

First, there's the question of balance and unity. Having changed the meaning and substance of the ten diary entries, I need to make sure they still feel right (a technical term) within the story. If not, I need to fuss some more.

Second, this is just one more opportunity for me to make the whole thing better. I'd like to step away from this rewrite knowing (or maybe having an inkling) that the novel has improved by an order of magnitude. That would be cool beans, as my Ohio friends say.


  1. Sounds awesome, Scott. The start-to-finish read-through is something I usually enjoy, but even when it feels tedious I think is necessary for similar reasons.

    So glad you feel like this whole process has made the book better!

  2. I spent an hour at lunch on the first two pages. They are now amazing. Really, it's as if I'm seeing the book for the first time while also really knowing the story and I can make smart comparisons or something. Can't quite explain it, but whatever it is, it's a good place to be. I do feel really hopeful about this novel. It's my best work yet.

    I have no idea how long this run-through will take. Usually I can do it in about two weeks, maybe three, but I feel very comfortable moving more slowly this time. I am weighing every sentence, every word, and the delight I feel when I've made a good change is almost childlike. Which is, well, a bit odd. But still. My brain tells me that it's feeling very creative right now and I should take advantage of that.

  3. This comment is mostly a note to myself. I'm finding ways to push the narrative in this revision. To make the action more immediate and visceral and human. Partly I imagine this as a process of breaking open the narrative along the seams to see what comes spilling out, but also I feel like I'm sharpening passages into points that will embed themselves into the readers. In a way. Possibly, the best way I can put this would be "More dirt!"

  4. Without being too gross, that stage for me is a lot like cadaver dissection. Peeling back layers and scraping out fat to pull out a bit more of the guts.

    Or was that too gross?

    I have a hard time telling anymore.

  5. Kudos! Yesterday I say Cock and Bull Ginger Ale at the grocery, and I thought of you. How the heck are you? Well, actually, it sounds like you're doing well. I'm so glad.

  6. Lois: Thanks! There's a drink called a Moscow Mule that's made with ginger beer. I only tried the drink because the menu listed Cock and Bull ginger beer as an ingredient.

    I'm doing swell, thanks. I totally knew the Washington Monument from the photo on your blog but I didn't comment. I am teh suxor lately about commenting on other people's blogs. Nice new layout you've got.