Day one of the final revisions is here. Finally, a whole day without grading, prepping for classes, or writing letters of recommendations has materialized. I have cleared my desk, leaving only my computer, a lamp, a glass of water, a framed portrait of Woolson, and the manuscript with my editor’s comments. (I’m ignoring the stacks of papers and piles of books crowding my peripheral vision.) It’s time know to roll up my sleeves and attack the manuscript one more time.
While I was in New York last month I met with my editor and we discussed what needs to be done. It’s time to consolidate the footnotes, eliminate distractingly short quotes, explain what needs to be explained, and above all take over as the narrator of this book.
I have been working my way towards a less academic style for over a year now. It seems I’m not quite there yet. My concern with accuracy and verifiability has led me to hang on to direct quotes, even in snippets. Rather than simply say something happened, I tend to say that Woolson wrote to so-and-so that something happened and pepper the statement with direct quotes—phrases or words even—to prove it. As a result, she remains the primary narrator, in a way, because she is the main source of information. I need to step out of her shadow and take over the narrative myself, moving from recording and documenting to telling a story.
There is much work to be done, but I’m more than anxious to begin. There is finally a light at the end of the tunnel. The path to publication is set. My revised manuscript is due in February and publication has been set for February 2016. It seems like a long time, but so much still lies ahead. I plan to savor every moment of it.
[Image of Faulkner’s desk, Gary Bridgman, southsideartgallery.com.]