Wednesday, August 17, 2016

When It's Ajar

When IS a door not a door?

When I'm revising. At least at this point in the process.

In On Writing, Stephen King said, "Write with the door closed, rewrite with the door open." Meaning, write "for yourself" until you get it as right as you can, then think about how other people might read it.

In relation to my (APPARENTLY NEVER-ENDING) revision projects, by his definition my door is still closed. But by my definition--anything that comes after the throes of creation, any time I can return to a draft with slightly jaundiced eyes--my door is ajar.

I'm certainly not thinking, "Who would ever publish this?" or "Where should I submit this?" or "What's the word count for that contest again?" All "door open" questions.

But I am thinking, "What does a reader who doesn't know me need to know in order to care about the story I'm telling?" And, "Oh, by the way, is this even a story?" So: still trying to get it right. Sorta.

Yet, I do have some perspective. I'm far enough away from the early drafts that I can see the things I did to make myself feel better while I was pounding out early drafts--unique word choices, a shrug instead of explanation of why something's important, creating a scene that doesn't do much but justify a character's (my) actions. All "door closed" things.

Some of that stays (word choices for specific people), but much of it goes (justifications), and some has to be massaged (impact).

So yeah. Ajar. For now.