It has been a quiet, relaxing Spring Break, for me, thus far. I have spent a lot of time watching Star Trek and Lie to Me on Netflix, and my wife and I have also gotten into The Following with Kevin Bacon. In spite of my general laziness over this time period, I have also been working on school work, both work for my classes, and the class I am teaching--I am just doing it at my leisure.
I have also spent time thinking about my novel, Out in the Garage, and finishing a final edit of it. I have made a personal vow that, after I get done with it this time, I am not going back to it again. I have some great ideas for my second novel, tentatively title Consequences--which I believe will be even better than the first, since I have a better idea of what I am doing and I have already more or less mapped it out, beginning to end (as it is somewhat based off of a movie script I wrote). In fact, I am also brainstorming a third novel, as well (called Born in 1984-- I am waiting to write it third as it is going to take more research and studying than I have time to do right now, since I need to focus more on finishing school and finding a job).
Consequences is altogether a different novel than Out in the Garage. For one, it is narrated in a third-person omniscient voice, and is in the past tense, and it has more of a story arc and plot than Out in the Garage. It is more apparently social criticism--although I wouldn't really consider it satire. It is more social criticism in the way that The Great Gatsby is social criticism. I am really looking forward to being able to sit down and work on it, but, first things first. I have to be satisfied with Out in the Garage.
While I certainly could have left it the way that it was, and after a lot of deliberation I am not doing anything extreme, just cutting the fat. One thing I have been considering, mostly due to my insecurity, more than anything, is my use of the present tense. It is this that has pushed me to make changes--although, rather than going backwards and using a past edition of the novel, I am pushing forward and making it work more in the way that I had in mind. One common error that people have is that they assume that by using the present tense it is taking place in the present, or that the narrator is experiencing it in the present. Rather, it is merely another way to narrate the past.
I decided to use it for a variety of reasons, but my biggest reason is that I like the way that my writing sounds in the present tense--it gives it a poetic, musical quality, which is important, in particular, for this novel, since it is designed to be a sort of novelization of a rock opera (that doesn't really exist, but I have honestly thought of making one). If you take a look at the book (if you happen to have a copy), instead part being divided into parts, it is divided into sides A and B, and, while I haven't label the chapters as tracks, I haven't labeled them as chapters either. It is not intended to be the narrator experiencing and describing things as they are happening, and, most of the time, when any writer uses it, if they are using it as it is intended to be used, it isn't intended that way, either. John Updike referred to it as being similar to time sense in a movie (referring to Rabbit, Run). In fact, Less Than Zero by Brett Easton Ellis and Waiting for the Barbarians by JM Coetzee are both also written in the narrative present. While I am no Updike, Easton Ellis, or Coetzee, I strive to be, and will continue to study them closely (and many others, as well).
The changes I am making aren't major, I am not adding anything, I am just trying to make the story (and the ideas within it) more clear; I am cutting out parts that only distract the reader (and I am also trying to catch any remaining typos). While I know it goes against the status quo of publishing to go back and make changes to a book that has already been published, as a self-publishing author, I have more freedom to do what I want, and part of my reason for self-publishing is to discover what works and what doesn't. I can be as experimental as I want to be, and it's not like I have a big readership or anything like that, so, I must need to keep trying and keep honing what I am doing. That being said, I do understand that I can only reasonably do so much to one novel before it's time to move forward--and I am nearly to that point, I just need this one last push, this one last effort, to get it to where I will be comfortable with leaving it and moving forward.
It shouldn't take too much longer, but I am trying to be thorough. Once I re-release it, I am not going back to it again. It will remain how it is at that time, and anything I learn I will just apply to the next project.