Roland Merullo's Blog - Posts Tagged "wwii"

On Rewriting

I always find it much harder to put together a readable draft than to polish and edit it once it's on the page. The former feels to me like pushing a big round boulder up a steep incline, and the latter like pushing it across a flat plateau once I've gotten it up there.

I know that a lot of writers have a resistance to rewriting. I understand that. It takes great patience, and a tolerance for 'hearing' your own words over and over again. (I have a chapter on that in my small writing-advice book Demons of the Blank page). And it's so easy to have a 'this-is-good-enough' mindset.

But 'good enough' isn't that appealing to agents and editors, and probably not as memorable to readers. It would be like spending months or years crafting a beautiful rocking chair and then not bothering to sand or finish the wood.

I'm in the midst of editing another WWII novel, set in Italy, like Once Night Falls, but in Naples rather than Lake Como. The research was fun; Naples is a wonderful place. The assembling of the story was a minor nightmare of infinite possibilities and the need to stay close to historical facts, but the polishing is a pleasure. I go very slowly, checking details, making small adjustments, adding, changing, cutting.

The sad truth is, we could continue to polish forever. At some point, you have to let the book go. When I get to where I'm taking commas out on one read-through and putting them back in on the next, I know I'm finished.
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Published on January 06, 2020 11:21 Tags: italy, novel, rewriting, wwii