Saturday, December 16, 2006
Reading the river
There's no substitute for setting a draft aside and letting it cool. What not to do: get feedback, revise, and send out immediately after revising. The temptation is exceedingly powerful, but I've realized that I now can feel it physically when something isn't right. I'm learning to override my tendency to say "oh well, that spot's not important." Every spot is important. After I've rested the piece, I can read through and sense where there's trouble, sort of like an eddy or a hidden rock in the river. (I take this metaphor from whitewater kayaking; my cousins who do this like to walk alongside the part of the river they're going to run and "read" it beforehand.) I have to go to that spot and work through it. Often it's a fundamental flaw in the concept of the story, which is probably why my instinct is to avoid it. On the other hand, I usually can figure out a solution, and it's often a leap forward that strengthens the whole story. In other words, that eddy is an opportunity.