I spent half an hour on Monday staring at the first paragraph of Baby Grand. I read it again and again until the words just seemed to suspend in air, not making any sense at all.
The revising process is an interesting one. After spending so much time just writing from my heart and about what drives me, stories that I find exciting, all of those external influences begin seeping in as you revise. Gosh, there’s so much pressure on the opening line of a novel alone. I’ve read magazines and blogs that highlight first lines, and as I read mine, I wondered: Is this any good? Would a magazine find this worthy enough to put in its pages?
Then I read further, and the questions poured in: Is this chapter meaningful? Is it a proper introduction to what comes next? Is it boring?
I reminded myself that my agent thoroughly enjoyed Baby Grand and that I should give myself a break and move on, but there was something that was nagging me about that opening paragraph. I wound up doing what first-time author Leah Crichton advised in yesterday’s Debut Author Q&A: I typed anyway. Changed words. Changed them back. Changed sentences. Changed them back. Changed until I was finally happy with the result, until I could sit back and read it and nod my head: Yes, this sounds right. I had to laugh, because, plot-wise, I hadn’t changed a thing. But there were new word choices. Better word choices. In the first paragraph and, soon, throughout the chapter.
But then Nervous Nellie reared her fretful head. Gosh, if it’s taking me more than an hour to go through a short opening chapter, that’s 60-plus hours for 60-plus chapters. At least! But I sent Nervous Nellie packing and reminded myself to just take it a paragraph at a time. Hour by hour. No different from when I was writing Baby Grand last summer and faced with blank pages along with that familiar looming deadline.