Ben Peek (benpeek) wrote,
Ben Peek

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Job Two and Christopher Cyrill Day

in job number two, known as the university job, i got to hear christopher cyrill give a lecture on writing (mostly his).

i'd never heard of cyrill. it's not surprising, really. there are lots of writers i haven't heard off, and only so many hours in the day, with only so much money and time to be spent in a bookstore and a library. i long ago accepted no matter how much i read i'd always be under-read somewhere, but at the end of the day, i would easily sacrifice knowing about some of the local writers i do know about for cyrill. he, at least, gives an entertaining lecture.

the one thing that sticks in my head, however, is cyrill's admittance that he rewrote his novel, hymns for the drowning thirty eight times.

thirty fucking eight.

now, way i figure, that thirty eight wasn't total rewrites. i think he used 'drafts' as a word, and it was thirty eight drafts. so that can be where he changed bits and pieces, just tiny bits, but still, you have to think that a number of those thirty eight were sufficient rewrites. but the strangest thing of all, was that cyrill said he came up with the ending after the book was published. the 'true' ending as he called it, which he read, and it was a fine ending indeed. somewhat more interesting than the other parts of his book that he read earlier. i suspect that he didn't put this ending through thirty eight drafts, and maybe that's why it had a bit more snap in it, but without having read his book, i really can't say in any fairness. that was just a thought churning in my head, which lead to the next thoughts, which i decided to put down.

things can be overwritten. you can suck out all the life in a book or story by constantly reworking everything down to a fine, sculpted collection of words. you rub away the emotion, the rawness, that little bit of something extra that finds itself in there. there is definitely a point, i find, when that something extra evaporates, and you're left with something that, while it may be technically proficient, has stopped working. the constant changes of names, the shifting of characters, the constant moving of commas and words until they are just right... well, this can do it. which is not to say that i don't think you should rewrite (basically, rewriting is ninety percent of writing, and where all the crafting and work takes place). it just got me thinking that you can do too much of it, and how, occasionally, i've rewritten stories one to many times, and broken them.

but, anyhow, just a thought i figured i'd put down. it's a fairly obvious thought, really, but it's different to the kind of entry that has been filtering in for a while. chop and change, keep things different, that's the way of the interesting livejournal. well, so far as i'm concerned.

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