We were blackening pages, all of us, covering them with charcoal, leaving no traces of white showing, turning them black as Con Edison smoke, as abandoned subway station platforms and third rail rats. As black as vacuum-packed blackness between stars. (LIFE GOES TO THe MOVIES, Peter Selgin)
I think of my friends doing NaNoWriMo this month, of the frenzy of blackening their pages with words, a rabble of courier and times roman and georgia fonts. The beauty of the first draft of anything, be it a novel or poem, a song or a script, is the building up. The thrill of mounting word count, of sentences bleeding into paragraphs, and paragraphs seeping into pages.
I miss the blackness.
My quest these grey November days is to create white space. To cut wide swathes through my story and leave scenes that make the reader fill in between words. When you cross a river, do you remember the water or the stones? I think of each scene as a river rock, the water raging below the page, full of unwritten tension.
I am committing surgery, rather drastic cutting that might qualify for an episode of Nip and Tuck, on BRIGHTER THAN BRIGHT. My first novel, one I thought 'finished' over a year ago. I have murdered many darlings, including the opening scene which won me a very nice monetary prize two years ago. But the opening was cliche, dwelled overmuch in backstory, and, as one esteemed small press who actually read the first 50 pages put it, "tried to create empathy for Ben before he had earned it."
Only in hindsight. And yes, the best rejection I have ever received, as it came 16 months after I'd submitted and the house noted emphatically in it's submission guidelines that it does not respond to manuscripts it is not interested in.
So my quest is to create more white space. I have parsed 2,800 words from the first 77 pages. I have miles to go.