Mar 18, 2007

So I have spent the past few weeks going over and over my second novel, not just "slowing down the ending a bit," which was my agent’s suggestion, but really trying to tighten the whole book—take out every unnecessary line, make every scene as rich as possible, add various bits that will make the ending more effective, listen to feedback from various readers, etc. etc., and also cut down on repetition, not just of images but of various word choices that I was not even aware I was making over and over again. And weird ones, too.

I have realized, for example, that every single character in this book winks. A lot. Characters are always winking! Whenever they make a joke or say something saucy or hand someone money or try to get someone to do something. As I was looking at this array of winks, I had to wonder: who actually winks? Nobody actually winks! Do they? I think the economist winks sometimes in a funny way, but I don’t think anyone else I know winks on any type of regular basis. Then yesterday I had the distinct pleasure of riding up a long escalator with Tink in a K-Mart in Queens, and a little kid in front of us kept staring back at me. I winked at him automatically, and in the next moment had a startling moment of self realization. I wink. I’m pretty sure I only wink at children and when I am being jokingly flirty, but still. Unfortunately, my own penchant for winking does not mean that every character in my book is allowed to wink, too, and I am therefore pulling the winks from my book as if they were weeds. Beautiful, luscious weeds with flowers blooming from them, but weeds nonetheless.

I won’t even go into my apparent affection for the word "fingered," as in "fingered the hem of the dress" or this line: "an old-fashioned vanity was crammed between the bed and the kitchen counter, and I walked over, fingering the elaborate hand-mirror, the pots of gloss and blush and glitter and jewelry that lay on top." My mother is the one who pointed that out; I hadn’t even realized I used that word. I don’t believe I have ever spoken it. Who "fingers" things rather than touching them? How did that word weasel its way into my writing? "Fingering" should only be used in a sexual sense, and even then, sparingly. Everyone knows that.

I suspect that this is the devil’s work.

The end.