In a blog posted mere hours ago, Arielle claims I have been dragging my feet regarding finishing the second edit of my book, L’Amérique.
Dragging my feet? Risible.
She also states I have a passably respectable work ethic. I will not dignify this lamentable aspersion with a response because, you see, Arielle does not sleep. She does yawn from time to time (well, pretty often, actually, and she assures me it’s not the company); she stays out late at karaoke and blows out her voice and then says her vocal ills are my fault because she has to yell at me; she spends twenty hours a day online with her 2,287 friends, and otherwise works diligently on one project or another (see below). Arielle, you see, originated the 32-hour day.
But let us return to her regrettable claim that I am laggard.
Let me explain. Yes, we are mere pages from la fin. The last few scenes we’ve worked on were drafted recently when we projected that the rewrite of the original book would run to fewer than 200 pages. That’s a novella, not a novel. So we decided to append the sequel that I have been working on, to the back of the original book. We also had to insert new chapters to fill in gaps, and a lot of the book’s final pages were created very recently. I haven’t had the opportunity to spend a lot of time on these last words.
Arielle has edited this book in a bit more than three months. It took me almost a decade to write it. She is a fast-moving creature by nature, albeit a careful one, most of the time. I am a cautious being who watches my step and three times looks both ways before I cross a one-way street—be it literal or fictive. Think older turtle, younger hare. Arielle has approximately 212 projects going on simultaneously, of which our book is merely one, even if, I am told, it is a very important one. I have three projects, maybe four, and two of those are dormant.
Here is another thing that happened. Upon rereading the book in its entirety, I got pretty emotional. In fact, I broke down in tears a couple of times when I realized that, in the end, what I thought I had written was not at all what was on the page. I had wanted to chronicle the happy story of a little kid in Paris whose family decides to move to America. What is really there, after the rewrite, are the memoires of a child desperately trying to hold his family together in a brand new country, the language of which he doesn’t speak.
Am I going to be careful before finishing this thing? Damned straight. This is probably the most important writing I’ve authored.
Where Arielle is completely right is in illustrating the difference between writing and theatre. I would add that the plays her company produces take four or five months from inception to last curtain call, and this is accomplished with a whole bunch of people pitching in. Britches and Hose presents four plays a year, and hosts a one-act-plays presentation as well. If I’m lucky, in a three-month period, I will write a finished 100 pages of prose. I’ll sell a few free-lance articles and see a couple of my short stories published.
Arielle says, “There will always be another play/another book/another artistic endeavor.”
Honestly, the only thing I can say with any degree of certainty is that it’s unlikely I will ever again write a book this personal. So yes, I’m going to take my time. I will drag feet and elbows and knees and whatever appendage is necessary to make sure we do this totally right.
And as a last word, let me say Arielle is a truly phenomenal editor, the best with whom it has been my privilege to be associated. I love working with her. That’s never been in question.
Plus, she almost never drags her feet.