Monday, March 10, 2008

The Troupe's Affectionate Nickname For Her Is Gypsy

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.


Anonymous said...

Yes, but can she core a apple?

(Sorry, I didn't have anything of great importance to write, but it always seems that no-one comments here for a long time until the first comment arrives. After that, the floodgates open. So, apres moi, le deluge?)

ANd, yes, I forgot my password again.

Glen Anonymous

Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Hi Glen-

Yes, I was feeling kind of lonely and uncommented. So thank you.

Maybe you should change your password to something easy to remember, like Glen. Or Anonymous.
Or bustqmtp, which is the "word" I need to retype to prove I'm human.

I do find the "bust" part amusing in this context...

Anonymous said...

Do you think there's any reason why people don't comment on a post like this? Do you see any correlation with the subject you post and the number of responses you get? (Could it be that people like Bestiality and Cannibalism?)

I'm just curious?

Glen 'today I am aakpoq' Anon

Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Hi Glen-

Well, everybody likes Beastiality and Cannibalism.

I think my quickly lost readership took one look at the camera view of me, and ran to the hills.

Which is where I must run to right now, or else I'll be late for my volunteer work.

Anonymous said...

It's been really interesting watching your vision of the the post d&g society evolve on this blog! I have a question, though. Once Kaitlin (or any 'drog') is registered as a 'drog' can she change status legally?

Another observation: To the extent that I've thought about post-apocalyptic US society (not much) I would have guessed that it would become outwardly more puritanical and rigid regarding women's modesty. Does Kaitlin's new job mean that this isn't so?

Can you tell I'm over-thinking this?


Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Hi Anonymous Nancy-

Nobody can overthink P3B like I overthink P3B. Who knows if it'll ever get published, but it sure has proven time consuming.

I picture this world as being kind of like Saudi Arabia, rife with puritanical double standards. Respectable women are kept protected (they're not even allowed to go to football games), but guys just wanna have fun.

Registered drogs probably can't undo their status (actually I'm not sure any drogs legally can), but the troupe never succeeds in registering Caitlin (towards the end of the book they try to barter her in one town only to be told the town will only allow registered drogs to be bartered, so at the next town they try to register her only to find out marked drogs can't be bartered I hope that's the only time I ever use the word "only" three times in one sentence).

You have no idea how much fun it is to create an entire society. Alas, I find all this power gleefully addictive, and that's why I keep playing with the rewrites instead of putting them aside and getting on with my life, such as it is.

Thank goodness for American Idol. I read a six inch stack of newspapers and breezed through four decorating magazines while it was on last night.

softindierocker said...

Awwwww, I’m so sorry that you were feeling lonely and uncommented. =( I just wanted to say that I can’t wait to read your next books! I asked my library to order The Dead and the Gone. Especially since you say that P3B is the greatest book ever written.
I am also totally jealous of your flippin’ sweet drawing skills. Seriously. I have never been able to put any emotion or depth into my stick figures. How did you do it?! ;)

Lucy :D

Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Hello and Welcome Softindierocker Lucy-

Thank you for requesting that your library acquire d&g. I hope you'll enjoy it (and that you won't be the only person in your library to take it out).

My stick figures are works of art, aren't they. I took some art history courses when I was in college, and my education has paid off in a big way. The influence of Rubens on "As the camera sees me" is quite obvious, but what pleases me even more is the fact that "As the mirror sees me" was falsely attributed to Modigliani and sold on ebay for $22,000,000.01.

It sure was a nuisance to have to Paypal all that money back though!

Anonymous said...

Your drawings are so good you could sell them.

Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Hi Anonymous-

Thank you for your kind words about my drawings. I certainly do enjoy creating them, and they're fun to include in the blog.

LAWKI and d&g are, I'm told, very depressing books, so it's nice to show a side of me that isn't totally obsessed with death, hunger, and suffering.