Saturday, June 12, 2010

Writing is like Assembling Furniture

This idea struck me near midnight, after I'd spent the entire day beating my head against a wall working on the second draft of ANGELIC DEMON.

Writing is just like assembling furniture.

The first bookcase I ever assembled was one of those massive five shelves things. I'd been pretty sure putting a bookcase together couldn't be hard. There's the top. bottom, sides, and the back is a thin veneer that you nail on. Not hard, right?

Oh no, of course not.

There were nuts, and nails, and little metal things that mystified me, and round plastic things that were more mystifying than the metal things. I followed the instructions, but it still took me two tries to get every pieced together. I think I gouged a chunk of wood out with my screw driver at one point, trying to twist one of those damn little plastic twisty-things. But I got it figure out. The thing even stands pretty level.

Revising this book has been something of the same way. I have a rough instruction guide (read outline) that I follow, but last night, I hit a point where I was left turning the instructions upside down and scratching my head. Things hadn't fit together the way they were supposed to, and for the life of me, I couldn't figure out where I'd gone wrong. In other words, that bookcase I'd assembled had an obvious lean to it, and the shelves wouldn't stay where they were supposed to.

I stepped back, stared at it, tipped my head this way and that. I squinted at it and titled my head this way, to see if maybe it could be overlooked, but no. I had to tear the whole thing down and start again. Not the whole book, thank goodness. Just the three chapters I'd been agonizing over all week.

But it was worth it. I found out that Slot A wasn't a good fit for Writing D, and Writing F should actually come after Writing E, and Writing E needed to be moved into Slot A and bound to Writing D, leaving me to fill the hole in Slot C left by the removal of Writing F, and Writing E just needs to be twisted more so that it fits better.

See! Building instructions! Some assembly required.

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