I've written it all before, but this is the biggest revision I've ever done, so it feels like I haven't come close to finishing the book--even after getting through five other complete drafts.
When they say that writing IS revision they aren't kidding. I didn't really believe it at first because, like most writers, I assumed my first drafts were pretty close to complete. And while this current book may not have changed as much from first draft to sixth draft as some books do, I would be mortified if anyone read the first draft. The current revision is, by most accounts, a totally different book. And a much better one.
For one thing it's about half as long. I tend to write endlessly and make things overly complicated. You can probably figure out via the other projects I've mentioned on this blog that I like to make things complex. Simplicity is too easy. Maybe I'll make a separate post about why I like complexity so much.
Anyway, I've cut so much of the book out. Basically any thing I didn't absolutely need was hacked, and anything that you can get through subtle implications (like small details about character or relationships) I took out. My grad school mentor gave a lecture this winter and stressed the importance of "trusting your reader," so that's what I've been trying to do. I'm doing less spoon feeding and leaving the heavy lifting to the reader him or herself.
The epilogue used to be 12 pages and I want to get it down to about 4. I completely changed the end of the book. Part of it is a murder mystery and I totally changed who the "killer" was at the end. So things have to be a lot different. That's why I have to legitimately WRITE the last chapter now, not just edit it. It's freaking me out a little. And I only have 30 minutes of internet until 2:00, so I'm using it while I can. Plus talking about the book is helping me to get back in the mood and the mindset.
I'll leave you with the opening of the book as it currently stands (it will be changed eventually). Enjoy! Thanks for reading!
"My mother named me Petrichor Plumeria—but I try to go by Petra.
I'm the best-smelling homeless woman you'll ever encounter. That's something to brag about when you live in a century of unrelenting toxic storms. I have a bit of an advantage over the other poor wretches that wander the ragged streets, because I live in the stock room of the soap shop. Those who sleep in the gutters can't help but stink of gasoline and ammonia. I, at least, can cover up my foul odors with potent lotions and fragrant herbs. Best-smelling homeless girl, sure, but probably the worst-smelling woman who makes soap. I have a rare skin condition that makes me smell like rotting fish. I've had it since birth, and no measure of scrubbing or soaking will ever excavate the stink from my body. It's in my genes. Trimethylaminuria, they call it.
My business is soap. Not coincidentally.
I make and sell specialized bars, shaped, sculpted, dyed and scented. And, thanks to frequent sponge baths, I do manage to keep my stench covered up most of the time. But when I get nervous or sweat or even so much as blush, I permeate. Like a stagnant cesspool of decomposing seafood."