Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Book surgery

There are some old ships of such value, historical or sentimental; or built with such care and love that their very shape is worth preserving like a museum or a painting. When these vessels decay, as we all must, often there is debate about how to repair them.

To preserve them? To rebuild them? To replace them with chrome and gas-powered motor boats?

If every single piece of wood in an ancient ship is replaced, is it still the same ship? If one piece is replaced? What if it is carefully measured before it sinks, and then rebuilt as an exact replica?

I mention this to illustrate the lengths to which people go to preserve things. Sometimes, I have even heard, an ambitious or stupid builder will obtain a boat and proceed to cut out the middle. The resulting two ends he will then graft onto a different midsection, often shorter or longer or fatter or thinner than the original.

This would be like replacing my chest with someone else's, and is about as easy. But sometimes it works, and the resulting boat is actually an improvement. Success!

This is what I'm doing with my book. Not so much replacing the middle; that would be too easy! But pulling out a big section, expanding parts of it, moving in aspects of other books and other sections of the same book, pulling and tugging at the poor fragile thing like it's a piece of pizza dough.

Which makes my valiant sheer stringer gluing efforts seem easy!

Workspace from this morning: coffee, eyeglasses, and the stack of ideas I call the next draft:


Babs said...

New book? Same book with new innards? What?

Anonymous said...

If it's as good as the first third of the old draft, I can't wait to read it!

S R Wood said...

Actually ... it IS the first third of the old draft, enlarged and improved. New strands woven into the narrative; deeper explorations of determination and fear and beauty.

I'm working off some great advice. So far it feels right!