Sunday morning is come, and in forty minutes I need to head out into the cold and gloom to make my way back to New York City. I arrived in Boston yesterday afternoon, and spent the evening discussing Crude Sunlight with my friend, Mike Dougan. I can’t imagine a better way to spend an evening then sitting with a best friend who is willing and excited to provide several hour’s worth of feedback on your own novel. Especially when his criticism is so spot on: it was like he was shining a spotlight into all the dark corners, pointing out what needed greater detail, what needed more explaining, what was inconsistent, where I had simply been lazy and skipped out on necessary work.
And man, is there a lot of work to do. Collating all the criticism and suggestions is going to be a serious task in and of itself, and then going through the manuscript and correcting and rewriting the third draft is beginning to look as formidable a task as writing the second draft was. Once again, certain scenes have to take place in different locales, certain characters need to act in new ways, or to be cut and deeply changed. Made more complex, more real, more interesting. The scope of the task is daunting. But the product will be infinitely better for it.
Some of the questions Mike raised were simple yet important to know: what school do Henry and Julia attend? What year are they in? How does Julia support herself? Why did the police not mount a more intensive investigation when Henry disappeared?
Others are more complex: why are Thomas and Buck friends? Why are Thomas and Martha married? Why does Julia not try to seduce Thomas more aggressively? Questions that require delving deep into these character’s psyches, and to a large degree re-imagining them, rewriting them so that things make sense.
An excellent evening, well worth the bus trips, and now there is no longer cause for delay; the third draft is upon me and I must ready myself for the plunge and pray that I break the water’s surface eventually and not drown in the process.