Dear Neighbors Northers,
I seem to be getting further and further afield on the novel, or hopefully, more on track. 2 epiphanies in less than a week. Maybe it’s all the cold meds? All the snot production pressing on my sinuses?
The original, sane plan with “Traveling to Palestine: The Re-Write” was Writer Katz would make all the little corrections noted by her beta readers, then she would tackle the big things, one by one, in tidy, front-to-back fashion. Each would be marked off the list with a tidy check mark as she addressed it. Then last week, probably as a result of feedback received on a short story she is working on (one of her endless distracting “side projects,” I mean, is she working on that novel or isn’t she? Just how serious is Writer K about finishing anything?) “Tethered,” originally known as “She Saw a Sweater Floating Downstream,” well, actually originally known as “He Saw a Sweater Floating Downstream,” but we won’t go into that, she realized the real problematical thing with T to Pal. McMullen had assigned negative character attributes to the characters who behave badly. It was as if she had taken a black marker to them and colored them in with it. the way a four-year-old might. Sorry all you four-year-olds out there who are reading this. Where was the nuance? She had made them so easy to dismiss. Any reader would be bored by them one paragraph in and simply wish them swept off the page. Writer Katz had taken the easy way out. “Oh. They’re the ones who cheat on their spouses. Go ahead and make them mean, petty, and venal,” Writer Katz reasoned. Wrong. So wrong.
Finally, last Wednesday?, Writer Katz realized what a lazy writer she was being. Here she had an opportunity to deepen T to Pal that she had totally missed. Make Tariq and Tamara and Sarah (the affair people) likeable characters. It’s uninteresting if unlikable characters have an affair, but if likeable characters have an affair, that has potential.
This led to Writer Katz approaching Project Re-Write fundamentally differently. Rather than approaching the re-write as a to-do list, she would approach it in a much more organic, holistic way. Every place she saw for intro’ing depth to her characters, she would go for it. She would work to 3-dimensionalize and complicate them. In the re-write, she would loosen the reins and let her characters serve themselves and their needs and desires, not always Writer Katz’s agenda. She would let things get way messier, not tidy.
So what was epiphany 2? Well, hmm. Err. Not quite sure Writer Katz can reveal that. Kind of a plot point. A surprise-kind of thing. You know, one of those skeletons in the closet. Writer Katz is shoving a skeleton into the closet. The door is a bit jammed. Oh, there we go. All better now. She’s got her back to the door. If she presses her weight against it, yes, she’s sure, the door will stay closed.