Wow. I didn’t actually realize until just now that I had two really short chapters in a row. I suppose that’s one of the side effects of having rewritten the book numerous times–I start to focus on the small things and let the bigger things go, assuming that they’ve already been taken care of. Oh well–it means that there was another great illustration by Shawn, and that I have another light week of commenting this week. (This is actually a very good thing–I went to my grandmother’s funeral today, and it took a lot out of me, so I’m not in my tippy top commenting form. Please bear with me.)
This was another complete insertion that came after the first draft. Originally, Buttersby went from the ranch to the jungle of her own free will and choice. She decided that she’d get even with the rest of the alpacas by leaving them. Convoluted logic, but you find that a lot in all people. As I’ve said before, I’m very pleased with the direction the revision of this book went, and I think it’s a stronger book because of it.
This actually brings me to another thought. Up until recently, I’ve never really plotted a book out before in detail. Cavern of Babel was generally thought of, but the actual course of the book changed a lot in the revision process. It makes me wonder what I would have come up with if I had sat down to plot the book out completely ahead of time. Would I still have met Ozzy? He just came to me out of nowhere, and he’s one of my favorite characters that I’ve written. Naturally there’s no way of knowing what would have happened if I had approached the book differently, but it’s still interesting to me to wonder. It’ll also be interesting to see if my writing group still likes my writing, now that I’m taking this plot-it-out-ahead-of-time approach. Will it change the spontaneity? Will it be an improvement? Many questions. Writing is such a process of self-discovery. There are many different approaches, but you need to find out what works for you. It’s sort of like that oft-used eyeglasses analogy. Just because a pair works great for one person, doesn’t mean you can use the exact same thing and haveit work great for you.
In fact, that analogy seems to work really well for writing–at least for my writing. A lot of the times I take a revision to writing group and I’ll ask them, “Better, or worse?” It’s strange, but for me, I don’t often know until I’ve done something whether it was an improvement or not. Only afterward, looking back at the process as a whole, can I know if what I did worked. With plotting ahead of time, I always thought I’d hate it. Now that I’m doing it, I think it’s working very well from a get-words-on-the-page point of view, but then the question is if it works from a reader’s point of view, too. We’ll just have to wait and see.
Anyway–that’s all I have for this week. I’ll leave you with a preliminary sketch of Shawn’s that he did for Ozzy. It took us a bit of back and forthing for Ozzy’s eyes to come out right. I pictured them blank white, but as you can see in this pic, at first they were just milky and a little cross eyed. Poor Ozzy.