October 17, 2008



I've had some blog worthy stuff happen lately from getting a book signed by Judy Blume (where I was the only male adult in the line, so yes, I felt like a total creep) to being sold coffee by Danielle's identical, yet black, twin (down the clothes she was wearing). I finally found a copy of Knockemstiff for sale in a store, which I bought to count as my earned book purchase, then I fell off the book diet hardcore with this "Friends of the UW Book sale" where they were selling paperbacks for a dollar, hardcovers for three, so snatched up a heap of titles from The Kite Runner (for a dollar, and hey, that thing sold like a billion copies, I want to see why) to what I think was a fantastic find, a hardcover of Best American Short Stories 1966 (highlights include, posthumous stories from Flannery O'Connor, William Faulkner and Shirley Jackson...what I think is interesting how they have that list of "nearly made it" stories in the back, John Updike & Joyce Carol Oates were in there, which makes me realize that they have probably been included in every BASS since they began their writing life). Oh, and at that book sale, they had something like 5 copies of Gore Vidal's book Lincoln. What's the deal with that book?

But really, the most important thing that happened was realization I had about my thesis. Shelly, my poetess, needs edited out.

Yes, that means that hilarious honey / nut cheerios line break will be one killed darling, along with her other more humorous, blind pride moments. I'll save what I can, shunting some stuff over to Tegan if possible, but it all can't be saved. Now, whether this counts as just an "edit" or maybe "rewrite" would be more apt a term, but whatever you want to call it, she's a tumor that needs surgical extraction.

My biggest reason for taking Shelly out, she doesn't exist for herself in the book. She was created to be important to Burnett, to be his window to some possible world, and she was created to be a counterpoint to Tegan. But her story, barely fits. Yes, she's attempting to reshape her past to fool herself into believing she'll live a better future, kind of like Burnett, and she's like this perfect ugly American, some ball of misguided pride and ambition, which fits okay with the larger questions of the American Dream at work here, but see, that's the problem. Shelly's a crutch for Burnett, she's a mirror for Tegan, she's some symbol...she's not much of a person. And, you know, that's no good for the story. Plus, she never really factors into anything Hoss does, and since he's the main force at work, it's strange that she and him never impact one another at all.

Everything that Shelly represents, or is to other characters can be made apparent without her being there, and may actually strengthen Burnett's character in the end. I mean, I can anchor all Burnett's hopes to his absent mother instead of what I have now, which was pretty much a convenient dismissal.

And, there's other stuff I need to work on, too. But kissing Shelly goodbye, that's a big one I think. Here's to hoping the edit/rewriter goes well. Wish me luck.

viva el mustache


Diana said...

Break a leg! I get all your reasons for cutting Shelley, but I'm gonna miss her.

Also: Let me know what you think of Knockemstiff.

And: I LOVE LOVE LOVE Judy Blume. I covet your signed copy.

Bronson said...

Hey man, you do what you have to do. I just finished an edit of the memoir, and I had to get rid of a couple things I really liked, but I'm much happier with the result.

Plus, once you give Shelley the boot, hopefully you'll be one step closer to completing the novel, and that's a good feeling!

Hey, maybe Shelley could get her own novel? (or book of mock-poems!)

The Ghost of Nostradamustache said...

Edit if you must, my good man, but try to avoid any Ignatius J. Reilly-ness if you can. You're not writing on a Big Chief tablet are you? No? How's your valve? Good?

I thought so. I'm just here to help you keep focused. Eyes on the prize, buddy, eyes on the prize.