I'm the sort of person who's never ashamed to admit when I'm wrong. Granted I don't have much practice, but on those exceedingly rare occasions when there's no getting around it, I say, "I was wrong." Which is much better than being one of those people who when they're wrong say, "I was right." And that's as political as I'm going to get.
Back to my acknowledgement of wrongness, painful though it might be for me. Last week I wrote a blog entry about how I'd completed the first draft of the Possible Third Book and intended to read it the following day, where I would no doubt think it was the greatest thing ever written, but wouldn't think it was the greatest book ever written.
I was wrong. It is the greatest book ever written. Is my face red!
Now it's possible that a few of you are saying to yourselves, "That Susan Beth Pfeffer. So cute and so self-deluded. " Well, ha. I'm not deluded at all. I never delude myself, and I have visual evidence to prove it:
See. They're identical!
Now just because P3B is the greatest book ever written doesn't mean it doesn't need work. Even though I intended to put it aside and let the rewrites wait until I knew if anyone was ever going to read it, I've been polishing and adding and even sometimes subtracting scenes for days now. I keep vowing to stop, but haven't been able to.
Last night, when I noticed P3B was 350 pages long, it occurred to me that perhaps a bit of cutting might be in order. I even wrote down two possible areas, a scene with a hailstorm, and some business about registering drogs (the slave people of my nasty post Life As We Knew It/ the dead and the gone society). The hailstorm scene covered some of the same material as the bigger and more dramatic tornado, and the registering of drogs was probably one of those bureaucratic concerns of more interest to me than any reader.
But this morning I woke up realizing the drog registration stuff was in there for a reason, to offer an explanation of why the troupe couldn't rid themselves of Caitlin, their poor beleaguered drog, when they wanted to. It had to be kept. And then I decided that I loved the hailstorm scene, and I should just move it from the final third of the book to the first third, where it would have more of an impact. And then I could add a tiny scene before the hailstorm scene to balance it (by the final third of P3B, I don't even pretend to balance things), so now the book won't be 350 fabulous pages; it'll be 351 fabulous pages.
Some of you may be wondering how out of that itsy bitsy 15 page outline I used to have here I got 350 (going on 351) fabulous pages. Oops. I guess there was stuff I left out. The hailstorm scene, for example, which is about 2 1/2 pages out of the 350. I'm not even sure if I mentioned the tornado (5 or 6 pages I think). Things that came to me while I was writing the book (I mean, I always knew the book was going to be more than 15 pages long; I just hadn't realized it was going to be 2333% longer*).
While I'm admitting all these things, I might as well reveal something else that I left out of the outline, yet takes up a certain amount of the 350 pages. As we all know, Caitlin, a perfectly nice tier three girl, ends up as the drog and understudy for the traveling troupe of players. As the drog, she has to do all the menial labor. As the understudy, she goes on at least once for one of the other girls, and she gets to do "seconds," which are the second performances that the troupe is required to give, intended for an audience of drogs (there are drog hymns and drog stories, and she does them very well). But (here's the confession part), Caitlin has other performing obligations.
Let's take a moment so we can all say, No Beastiality! No Cannibalism! Not even a hint of either for the entire 350 pages.
Okay. The troupe is contractually required to perform at halftime shows of football games ( that was in the outline, so I'm safe there). And Caitlin is the star of the halftime show (nothing wrong so far).
Have the children left the room? Come close so I can whisper. Caitlin's halftime show... well, let's just say exotic dancer.
Or as I put it to my friend Christy, to whom I make all confessions, "Caitlin becomes a stripper. And she kind of likes it."
And Christy, who is so smart, replied, "Well, that's one way to get boys to read it."
Those halftime shows took up a lot of pages.
Oh well. Now that you know almost the worst about P3B (No Beastiality! No Cannibalism!), I'll slip that hailstorm scene into the first 80 pages, and stare at at the mirror to see if there's any chance I can follow in Caitlin's high heeled footsteps.
*I wish to thank my incredibly smart brother Alan for telling me what the % would be.