I was reading "Fahrenheit 451" by Ray Bradbury yesterday. The whole book is rather profound, but I was especially struck by something the ex-English professor Faber says:
"Do you know why books such as this are so important? (holding the Bible) Because they have quality. And what does the word quality mean? To me it means texture. This book has pores...The more pores, the more truthfully recorded details of life per square inch you can get on a sheet of paper, the more 'literary' you are... Telling detail. Fresh detail. The good writers touch life often. The mediocre ones run a quick hand over her..." (74)
I stopped reading after this. It forced me to think about my own writing and ask, "What kind of writer am I?" Am I brushing over life? Am I focussed and intent? I had a lot of self-doubt hit me like a ton of bricks, but I also thought maybe this is a key that I'm missing in my writing. "Details, fresh details." This next edit, that will be my focus.
On another note, for the last year I have been wondering if in fact I'm writing 2 books. I love my sub-characters and sub-plots so much, but I've wondered if they fit in or if they are getting too much air time, or overshadowing and distracting from the main story. I'm also up to over 46 chapters and it feels like I'm writing "The Never Ending Story." I've been in denial, shouting no! (like my toddler is right now), not wanting to change, determined to make it work. I've wanted to ask professionals or have someone tell me to give them the ax. But no one will! Not even my husband! It's up to me.
It was early this morning while I was still sleeping (you know, the time when ideas seem genius, and dreams seem like they'd make great novels--until you wake up and think about it) that I really did get some good inspiration. If I'm serious about publishing this book then the time has come to part ways and say good-bye to my adorable, but outshining sub-characters and plots, and boost the really great story I already have. As much as I'm in love with Kevin Arnold, he's just not right for this book. That doesn't mean we can't be together again in another time and place, but making him the black and white sub-character he really needs to be isn't possible or even relevent to my story. So, as painful as it is, he's outta here. I think I finally saw the vision of the potential growth my story has if I can stay focussed on that story line. Part of me wonders if I was just scared to commit to it somehow thought I needed the "fluff" and side amusement my other characters brought to make it a better book. But now I'm going to see what I'm made of.
Today I was able to sit and make an outline, and I'm now down to 30 chapters. The light at the end of the tunnel is coming nearer and it's exciting!