Another draft finished. Took out a thousand words (actually, took out about 2,000 but added 1,000 new ones).
Resolved the character of Holly—that part still needs work; it’s a short and simple ending to a complex character, but at least I no longer leave her hanging.
Shortened up the final music gig scene to make it feel more like denouement, and rewrote the penultimate glassblowing scene to give it more weight, more passion, more climax, and definitely more technical authority.
All in all, it’s a much, much tighter draft than the last. Still not sure exactly what constitutes a “draft”: this went through a hundred little changes over a week’s worth of sessions to get it from the draft labeled “9.0” to the draft labeled “10.0”. But I’m not overly worried about it. Those numbers will be erased once I’m finished.
I still have a way to go. Need to go over it once more to smooth out the voice and delete unnecessary explanation/interior monologue. I’ll go over it another time for pacing and plot, and yet again with an eye to the most critical element, the development and resolution of the relationship between Eric and Holly.
Thing is, I could keep tinkering with this for ages. As a neat exercise, I copied and pasted the whole story into a new document, formatted in two columns in Garamond (as opposed to the 12-pt Helvetica I’ve been working in), to get a feel for how the story might look in, oh, say The New Yorker. (It’s just an exercise, not a delusion.)
It really helped: you spot things that way that you wouldn’t if it still “looked” like a rough draft. Overwriting and overly “voicey” bits jump out at you in two-column Garamond. It really helps me polish a piece. Kinda like playing the bass: you can practice your technical chops all you want on a shitty single-pickup practice bass with no amplification, but you won’t really start hearing the subtleties of pitch, tone, and attack until you get a decent instrument and plug that baby in.
(Just to be clear, I am no musician. I am a writer, and that was only an analogy.)
So I printed off a copy of the Garamond version for Angie to read. Later today and tomorrow I’ll go through again and make the aforementioned tweaks. But it’s very, very nearly done.
If I had to send it off to MFA programs today, I’d be content with my chances. I still want to shave some verbiage to allow for a second piece to be submitted. Which is a whole other problem: I need to fix up another story now. Technically I’ve got five weeks before the first applications are due, but I need to get these out to my recommenders beforehand—like, next week—so they can refer to the quality of my writing in their letters.
Onward and forward. Happy Sunday.