…and rewriting, and rewriting, and rewriting.
When I first had the idea for TSoM, the story arc was fairly well defined in my mind. The protagonist followed a certain path, touching key points along the way. Since I was well familiar with the protagonist – I see him every morning in the mirror – the script should be the proverbial piece of cake. Delicious wordcake.
The first draft was just that, written over a couple of days. That was left to sit for about a week, whilst I worked through all the other details of a New Zealand Fringe show. Then, out came the red pen. As Kurt Vonnegut said, ‘Have the guts to cut’. And I did. The first real revision dropped quite a bit, both in content and scope. Initially, I worried about if the story would hang together properly after these cuts, but I got used to the idea. Some more minor tweaks and correction changes, and the comfort levels rose.
Of course, that was the first time through. I think I’m on about revision five now, and still not entirely happy. I suspect these edits will happen from now until the show launches in February, and I know there will be in-situ edits at that point. It’s a constant worry, will it ever be right, or even good enough?
I take some solace in remembering a conversation I had with Louise Erdich many years ago, when I was at university. She said – and I’m paraphrasing, as I’m sure she was more eloquent – that writing is rewriting, but having a draft is a start. She insisted that without that, there’s nothing. A small accomplishment, but an accomplishment nonetheless.