The second draft

I think I mentioned I wrote the first draft of a novel earlier this year.  Actually, the first draft seems as if it wrote itself for it is an alien work to me now.  However, I am plugging away at the second draft.  The first draft was written in the third person omniscient.  I am changing the second draft to first person, which basically means changing everything in the manuscript.  I only have the energy to work on it early in the morning before sunrise, then only for an hour or two.  After that, I feel spent the rest of the day.

I will not quit on this exercise though.  It started as a labor of love when I wrote the first words in a white hot fever.  It has turned into a philosophical exercise now.  I read a comment by W. G. Sebald that fiction in modern times should be written in the first person or risk being inauthentic, or something to that effect.  The comment fits well with my current emotional state.  These days, pretending to be objective seems a cheap trick, a trick that will fool nobody.

There is something almost mathematical about working on the second draft of a novel.  During the second draft the novel emerges from the womb.  Let’s face it, idle vanity produces the first draft.  One drifts and dreams and says anything merely for the pleasure of hearing one’s voice speaking, if only into a silent void.  During the second draft, one must make sense of the emotional content of the material, tame it, and control it.  I’m always reminded of Part III of Spinoza’s Ethics when working on the second draft of a novel, for even emotions, desires, and passions force their logic upon us like a good piece of mathematics does.  One can be unruly, yet not too so.

I would much rather have spewed something other than this post.  But this is what I have.  Like the second draft of a novel my back seems against the wall today.  I went home feeling abandoned and alone last night.  The feeling remains.  But why shouldn’t it?  I have spent another morning with my words.  The babble depresses me.  These cold short overcast days seem as if they have no end.  Maybe, I am fooling myself that they ever will.  Darkness comes from the soul.

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Published in: on December 9, 2008 at 12:46 pm  Leave a Comment  

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