Today I finished reading through and editing the second draft of The Driver’s Wife (Ketch’s story, mentioned in my previous entry). The next step is, of course, starting the third draft. I won’t call the third draft a “final” draft because I don’t think any story is ever “final,” especially unpublished ones. I mean, “final” gives the impression of completion, of something being as good as it can be. But is that really possible in art?
Some purists probably grumble over George Lucas’ various attempts at “improving” the original “Star Wars” trilogy. So much time has passed since the first installment of his classic hit the big screen, and technology in all things, including special effects, has raced forward like the proverbial freight train. Lucas then had the ability to visually accomplish things that were not possible back in the 1970’s, and so he tinkered with his million-dollar-baby. In some ways, I can’t blame him. As a writer, I understand how you never really say good-bye to something you’ve created; you always see flaws and want to fix them. Like la Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, stories never seem to be finished.
Historical fiction is particularly subject to the writer’s tinkering. After all, research is a never-ending quest. I may feel confident in my research, whether in sailing square-rigged vessels or growing tidewater rice, but that doesn’t mean I stop reading and searching for more information. And during that process I am always happily amazed to learn something new, something that then requires me to alter something in my stories. Sometimes it’s a small thing that affects perhaps only a sentence. In other instances, the new bit of acknowledge might require an entire storyline to change.
Whenever I finish writing or editing a manuscript, I often feel at a loss, like someone who reaches the edge of a river and doesn’t know how to get over to the other side. But just like when writing the story and arriving at a roadblock, I find that if I just sit and wait, a solution will present itself. I know that my next step is to start the next draft and to also start formulating a query and a synopsis now that I am comfortable with the overall product. But just because I know what steps to take doesn’t mean it’s easy to make that forward push. Of course once I do then the momentum generally takes hold and carries me along.
So tomorrow I hope to sit down at this computer, place page 1 of the second draft of The Driver’s Wife in front of me, and once more start on that never-ending journey toward being good enough.