Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Revisionist

One thing that I have accepted about myself is that I am a revisionist of my own work.  Of course, I am also learning and experimenting, but I do think that it is necessary to reach a point where I am happy/content with a version of a work and then move on to the next project.  If every book that I write takes me ten years to finish, then I will only write like three or four more books, and I have more ideas than that now, and I can only imagine that I will only continue to come up with more ideas over the years, and that I will never have a shortage of new material.

I have comes to terms with the fact that the second edition of Out in the Garage is not necessarily any better than the first edition of Out in the Garage, just different.  With the second edition, I am conforming to the criticism I have received in order to reach a wider audience that has a narrower view of what is acceptable and what is not when it comes to plot and narrative in contemporary fiction.  It is more tightly focused and is tied together in a more obvious way, from beginning to end. The nonlinear plot actually helps to bring out themes that are less obvious in the first edition (however still present).

The first edition conforms less to contemporary standards than the second edition but has its basis rooted in the classic literature that I have been studying.  The linear plot throws people off because it takes place over a longer period of time than what is standard today, and it echoes the plot of a traditional romance rather than a work of realism, where the narrator is on quest, but not to find anything, to escape (that's why the original version is call Escapes).  It also shows the series of cause/effect relationships as they happen, rather than as flashbacks--it rolls along rather than unfolds.

It has taken me a while to come to terms with the fact that no matter what I write or how I write it, I probably won't ever be a mainstream success and that no matter how I change my work, somebody will have some sort of problem with it.  That means I can either continue to change it, and keep changing it again and again, or I can just focus on the fact that I am doing this for myself, first and foremost, and that as long as I am happy with my work, that's all that really matters.  If I am true to myself, then it will at least be genuine. It is possible to strike a balance between the art and the commercialism.

I am finding that the audience I am discovering is my own is the type of audience that is open minded and willing to give genuine works of art a chance--accepting them for what they are and not for what they are not, the latter of which seems to be more the philosophy of contemporary literature and the traditional publishing industry who are the gatekeepers of the status quo.  Maybe Out in the Garage could have made a good YA Lit novel if I had changed it more and made it fit more into what is contemporary, but it is not that and doesn't have to be.  For that reason, I do somewhat regret making a second edition--even though I do like the way it is turning out and I do think it will be easier for contemporary audiences to digest.

Now there will be two versions.  After I am finished with this second edition, I am determined to move on and continue honing my style and writing the types of novels and stories that I like to write.  I will focus on getting them to work for what they are and not for what they are not or what they could be.  It's a hard lesson to learn, but, ultimately, I am glad that I am learning it--even if it could have come sooner, it's better to have learned it late than to not have learned it at all.

Instead of  continuing to work on the same novel, again and again, I will work on one, get it to the point where I am happy with it, publish it, take the criticism into consideration, and take what I learn and maybe, if it makes to do so, apply it to the next one.

No comments:

Post a Comment