On Revising

When I initially set out to write my first novel, I was expecting to hit a brick wall of tedium when it came time to revise the first draft. Who wants to edit what they’ve already written? I thought nothing could be more empowering than pulling words from the ether and mashing them together to form sentences. It turns out that making those sentences even better is just as gratifying.

There are two different ways a writing session can go: either you feel the flow and the words mostly write themselves, or you have to force yourself to hammer out a chapter so you can meet your word count for the day (if that’s how you set your goal). For me, the first draft of ASHES was about 60/40, respectively. At the time I was hoping it would have been more like 80/20 (or even higher), but it turns out that when you’re just trying to get into the habit of writing every single day, keeping the flow going can be difficult.

What happened as a result is that I ended up with a book of which 60% I was really pleased and 40% I vehemently denied ever writing. So, fearing the worst, I sat down to work on my second draft. It was magical. Stubby, blunt little sentences transformed into descriptive paragraphs that not only painted a better picture of what my characters were going through physically, but also emotionally. The revision process helped fortify a flimsy world into a solid entity that (I hope) is much easier to imagine. My characters are more genuine, the dialogue is more realistic, and the world as a whole is more believable.

I guess the bottom line is that no one should be afraid to revisit their work, even if they believe it to be of the highest quality. Every time I look at a passage from ASHES I see something I can adjust to make it better. To me, this is the essence of writing: not the initial creation stage as it stands alone, but the process as a whole, revisions and all. It is both extremely fascinating and satisfying, and I hope others have experienced it as well.

The Last Thing Ray Bradbury Wrote

Ray Bradbury dictated this short essay to his official biographer, Sam Weller, who confirms it is the last thing the science fiction author wrote. It is entitled “The Book and The Butterfly”, and it is about Bradbury’s great love of books and his discovery of the worlds they opened.

Here is the first part:

“When I was seven years old, I started going to the library and I took out ten books a week. The librarian looked at me and asked, “What are you doing?”

I said, “What do you mean?”

And she said, “You can’t possibly read all of those before they are due back.”

I said, “Yes, I can.”

And I came back the next week for ten more books.

In doing so, I told that librarian, politely, to get out of my way and let me happen. That’s what books do. They are the building blocks, the DNA, if you will, of you.

Think of everything you have ever read, everything you have ever learned from holding a book in your hands and how that knowledge shaped you and made you who you are today.

Looking back now on all those years, to when I first discovered books at the library, I see that I was simply falling in love. Day, after day, after glorious day, I was falling in love with books.”

The rest can be found here, and it’s definitely worth a read.