Read ’em and weep: first draft revision, awesome reads, and Banned Books week!

My book: 

I peeked.  I bought printer paper and printed up draft one and had a bit of a read.  So, um, yeah… it isn’t really finished.   I erred on the side of cutting too much for this pass.  As a result, some storylines are axe-murderer choppy,  and the stakes for my two main people are weak and undefined.  Not that any of my characters will come through this revision  with a ten year career plan or retirement fund… but there are too many gaps.  Also, after cutting and pasting all my scenes into one document, my word count is only around 45 000- which is not novelly.  Oops.  Need to put some story back in that story.

I feel like I’m standing at the bottom of a mountain, looking up and knowing I gotta get my non athletic ass up there somehow… but overall, I’m excited.   Little ideas have been coming to me at odd places and hours:   in traffic waiting for my left turn signal, in the stockroom while I move boxes.   The back burner is a hell of a thing.  Draft two will be show-it-to-people time.

 Other People’s Books (aka Real Books, haha)

I read Catcher in the Rye the other week (I wanted to see what all the fuss was about.  Pretty keen use of voice, but so far, I haven’t shot a single rock star. )  I got a few chapters into To Kill a Mockingbird before a friend reminded me it’s  Banned Books week.  Who else will be reading a sinful and terrible banned book?  Twelfth Night anyone?  Judy Blume?  I read the most fantastic quote from Adler&Robin Books:  “censorship in the United States is an old pastime and new hobby of the feebleminded.”  

 You don’t like it?  Close it.  Don’t tell me I can’t read it.   

In other book news, I tried to get my Proust on, to help refill that 19th Century well in my brainhole.  Swann’s Way, which I think is part one of A la Recherche de Temps Perdu… isn’t this thing supposed to have more cookies in it?   Sorry, P, I’m just not that into you.  Maybe it’s the translation. 

I’m really digging a biography of Edward Lear, Life of a Wanderer (too lazy to look up the author) The letters and sketches the author works in to the story are really hitting me hard.  I never would have guessed that so many rhymes and poems from my childhood came from such a sad and lonely place…  

Also sitting around my living room in various states of read/abandoned/picked up again:  The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay and the Yiddish Policemen’s Union by Michael Chabon. 

K&C:  Comic books, Houdini, smuggling Jewish children out of WWII era Prague, and possibly the best, hottest first kiss scene I have ever read in my life?  Check. 

YPU:  The Frozen Chosen!  It’s a film noir detective story set in alternate-history Sitka, Alaska.  Apparently the US government did entertain the idea of letting Jewish refugees come to Alaska during WWII.  Chabon takes this idea and runs with it.  Even the end notes are hilarious, smart, and completely heartbreaking (I struggled with this dense, tricky book last year, and read all the interviews, explanations and book club notes at the back before diving in again.) Chabon talks about setting up his world, its logic and language ( shalom=peace=piece=gun???  I’M IN LOVE.) Also he points out that if this alternate reality had taken place, there would be about thirty million more Jews in the world today- entire families not wiped off the face of the earth forever.  Chabon is on the list of famous people whom my husband and I are both allowed to try to bone, no questions asked, should said famous person become no longer committed to their current spouse, what have you.  All’s fair, man.

Too much jibber jabber, not enough writing?  My stacks of unfinished books just another symptom of starts-but-never-finishes disease?    La la la, darling, I simply cannot hear you.  Happy Sunday.

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3 responses to “Read ’em and weep: first draft revision, awesome reads, and Banned Books week!

  1. Look at it this way, even if you peaked into your own book, at least you have the ability to recognize where those story lines and such need to be fixed. Think of all those people who slam down first drafts and say “it’s perfect! I don’t even need to edit!” 🙂

    Catcher is an interesting book. I find that people either love it or they hate it. I’ve never heard someone say “it was okay.” Ever. Haha. That’s a banned book though! So is To Kill a Mockingbird — you have to finish reading that one 🙂 It was my FAAAAAVORITE book to teach when I was still employed, haha. I love that book so much. And while the movie makes some sizable changes, I love the movie almost as much. Such good stuff! But enjoy your reading. I need to read some more Michael Chabon. I read The Mysteries of Pittsburgh (living only about 2 hours from there) a few years back, and even though I HATE Pittsburgh, I loved that book. Became an immediate favorite.
    Well… that’s enough blubbering from me. Happy reading (and writing)!

  2. I actually was kind of ‘meh’ about Catcher. I got through it in a couple of sittings, and thought it was cool, but it didn’t make me feel profoundly changed or anything. As a ‘controversial’ book, and the scapegoat of choice for certain pop culture murderers, I expected it to be a lot more shocking. Although I suppose that present-day writing about depression and adolescence and hookers partly came about because of books like Catcher in the Rye.
    I really liked Phoebe. And again, for sustaining voice- whoa.

  3. Agreed. Phoebe is a good character. I think your point about the book’s shock value is dead on, too. I didn’t teach Catcher, but a number of my former students came back and talked to me about it the following year when they had to read it. They didn’t understand why it was so controversial.

    If you haven’t read Salinger’s other works, though, I definitely recommend it. Everything else he did largely focuses on the Glass family. My favorite of those is Franny & Zooey. I read them all in the order they were released, and then went back and read them all in chronological order of the larger story’s events (because I’m a huge nerd).

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