February 10, 2011


Recently, I finished what feels the 100th draft of my third novel. I thought it was finished but the publisher wanted a slight change. It wasn’t a big change and I should have managed it without any pain, but when I opened the book for review, I couldn’t stop rewriting. I’ve always been that way. I’m in an endless search for the right word or the elegant phrase and as our language is rich and beautiful, the journey can seem like Ahab’s quest for the great white whale.

One of the virtues of writing a blog fiave days a week is I haven’t the luxury to fret over words. Time is my antagonist and my mentor. Journalists know what I mean.

But in writing a novel, the element of time is removed. I am free to write and rewrite over and over again. Sometimes it seems as if there aren’t enough dictionaries or Thesauruses to satisfy what I want to express. I refer to them all like an alcoholic who stops at every tavern. My addiction is the desire to give my best to my readers. But at times, that incentive tries my patience. Sometimes it tries the patience of my publisher, too, who nudged me last week in the hope of seeing the revised copy. So why don’t I send it to her? Because I can’t, not yet.  Not until I’m satisfied I’ve done my best or go blind trying.

I need to accept dithering as a part of my nature, I suppose. I should remind myself that as a writer, I’m blessed that I can dither. If something in my imaginary world goes wrong, if I’m guilty of a poor word choice, or I fall out of love with my fictional  character, all I need do is hit the delete button and I’ve recovered from my blunder.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if real life could be lived that way?