I’ve been revising a historical novel, and it’s been going okay, I guess, even though the experience is giving me the same feeling I used to have while combing my older kid’s hair—knot after knot and a burning desire to cut them all out and call it a day. The next round of revision will go faster, the one after that, faster yet, but I’m still in the plodding stage, planting seeds to justify a development in the nineteenth chapter, deepening details, improving dialogue, clarifying motivation, honing, heightening, and patching—polishing every part to a shine. Eventually, I’ll drag the comb from the scalp to the ends of the hair with nary a snag. That’s a ways off yet, but it’s my goal. Or it always has been, anyway.
Ironically, one aim of this effortful revising is to create something that possesses the quality of effortlessness. “You make it look easy,” we say admiringly to the expert, whatever the “it” may be—dancing, sculpting, guitar-playing, writing. Making something look easy is hard work. Lately, however, I’ve been wondering about this aim, questioning the supremacy of effortlessness. Could an unraveled knot benefit a work of literature? Maybe a snarl that snags could be a good thing. [Read more…] about Good-Weird