While I am not trying to be a best-selling author, and I am trying to focus more on my second novel, I am still a bit unsatisfied with my first novel, Out in the Garage, and feel that I need to make some changes to it, which might be a faux pas, but I don't really care.
Nowadays, I am guessing by the massive amount of money that goes into publishing books, authors, especially ones who are published by the big-time publishers, don't tend to make changes to books once they are published; however, that has not always been the case. Novels such as Ulysses and The Picture of Dorian Gray have both had changes made to them by the authors to improve them in some way. While I would not put myself in the same category as Joyce or Wilde, if they can get away with it then so can I.
Perhaps I have tried to focus on being business-minded in the past, but I am moving away from the idea of seeing my work as products to be sold and moving toward the perspective of seeing them as works of art. While some people out there might think that is bullshit, or whatever--just an excuse to write in a crappy or obscure way--I believe that current publishing standards tend to place style over substance and saleability over originality. Not that the people who are making big bucks on best-selling books don't deserve it, it's just that I don't believe that I will ever be among those people, so rather than continuing to try to fit that mold, I am going to go in my own direction.
That is why I am not getting my MFA. I won't disparage those that do have them, or those that are pursuing them--as I do know some great writers who have them--but I don't believe it is really necessary to have one to be a great writer. In fact, from what other great writers have told me, including some with MFAs, the real trick to is to study closely how your favorite writers do it and then apply what you learn to your own work. That is what I am doing instead. Reading a lot, and closely, and attempting to learn from what I read.
If I do get another degree, it will be a Ph.D. in literary theory, which is why I am working to finish my thesis (for those that don't know, I graduated by taking extra classes). However, I did take my thesis hours, and they are technically still in progress, and I feel like I owe it to myself to finish it--if for no other reason. Maybe I won't ever get a Ph.D., but I still want to be able to put my finished thesis on my resume. I also have some papers that I want to fix, polish, and try to get published in some peer-reviewed journals, as I believe I have some good ideas, and now, from teaching and grading, I am honing my editing and polishing skills.
For now, I am hoping to find a full-time job, settle into that for a while, and see what happens. Maybe I will like it and never go back to school, but maybe in five or ten years, I will be ready for a more advanced degree. I don't know, but one advantage of working full time is having more of a clear-cut division between work and free time, so that when I am not at work, I am free to work on whatever I want, like my thesis or my fiction.
Anyways, I have been considering changing Out in the Garage for a while, and even had that second edition published for a while. That was my attempt to appease people. Now, I want to appease myself. I have considered other, vastly different, versions of the novel, but instead I have settled on making some small changes to the existing text to cut out some distractions and to make it flow a bit better. In fact, I have more or less already made the changes. There might be a few more coming, but what I changed was fairly straight-forward and did not require a lot time. Here is a list of what will be different in the new version (when it is released):
- I cut out some unnecessary description from the first couple of pages as it was distracting and didn't really fit with the narration through the rest of the story
- I cut out the flashbacks from the first two chapters, as they added what is, essentially, unnecessary background information that is more or less implied by the plot
- I made some other small changes here and there that will probably be unnoticeable unless you do a side-by-side comparison
- I divided the book into three parts instead of the two "sides": the sides things was too gimmicky and there is a natural division in what used to be Side B of the text, which, by making the division clear, it helps make the plot and time-frame clearer
- I am making some formatting changes to reflect higher professional standards, including putting only one space between sentences
This way I can make myself happy and finally lay the project to rest, which is my goal by making these changes. Rather than let it continue to nag and bother me, I am going to make the effort to do something. Maybe this makes me a revisionist, or whatever, but I figure that, since I have already put like ten years into it, putting another few hours of work isn't going to make much more of a difference time-wise, and it will, in my opinion, make the book a bit more accessible without selling out my principles. After all, I am indie and proud!