The Director

While I understand that my current focus on my novel might be a bit “out of balance,” insofar as there are other things going on in my life which require my interest, the fact remains that I’ve got a book to edit, and that editing is, at least for me, a slow and time-consuming process which requires a great deal of my attention.

Just this morning, as I’ve also dealt with budgetary matters and Vejibag orders and a bit of house cleaning, most of my attention has centered around a page of text which needs to be unraveled, rearranged, and made to say what it needs to say. I’ve been through it a dozen times, and still I haven’t managed to wrap my mind around the part that’s not working, and uncover the secret that will make it work. Which is why I’m about to take a walk, to hopefully clear my mind, and allow for the Muse to in-spire.

In the matter of editing, Sally stands out, as she did for All of the Above, as “the director.” That is, I’ve got a scene there up on the stage, with characters present, full of lines to speak, and she watches from a few rows back as the scene plays out, and directs the performance. While she’s capable of spotting copy edits, mangled sentence structures, and plot contradictions or confusions, her primary gift, to my mind, is in noting the psychological and emotional tone and flow of the characters in their situations.

If my characters are stilted or clunky or over-expressive in matters of relationship, love, anger, grief, or things like that, Sally spots it, saying that something just doesn’t quite feel right to her, and sometimes suggesting other ways to play it. She’s got this empathy thing, I guess it is, and seems able to see things I do not see. So I listen to her, the writer deferring to the director, and think about what she’s pointing to, and play with her suggestions, and try to feel my own way into the scene like she does, and find a new way to play it that accounts for her feedback and satisfies my poetic ear. The process often feels difficult, challenging me to my limits. But the result is a better story, told in a better way. So I keep at it.

I’m off for my walk now. Got some of the director’s notes running around in my mind that I have to sort through. Hoping to find the secret to that page of text!


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