It's the rainy season in Cambodia, so I took the opportunity to revisit a novel I had finished years ago, but never felt was quite right. The existential premise, as Milan Kundera calls it, wasn't clear from the text. As I read through the early chapters I realized how fresh the writing still seemed. I was proud of it. Why hadn't I finished it before?
Well, this wasn't the first time I had gone back to it. In fact, I was working on a third revision. Yet, why not clean up the minor glitches and get it to my agent. And so, my near term project for these long rainy days was set.
My writing room is the covered front porch of an old wooden house on a main street of Koh Kong, which is a little town on the border with Thailand. There is a large area below, also covered, where the motorbikes and some chairs and a pool table are. The house was a bar in its last incarnation.
Sitting in my chair, my computer in my lap, I can ensure that life goes on as usual while I work. And it isn't a distraction. I do work. Focus has never been a problem for me, as I love writing.
So I got into the book and learned that my intentions were doomed as the book still had a fatal flaw. At least the intention to do an edit and send it off. Despite good writing, the storytelling needed work. Not that it was specifically bad, as I would have seen that much earlier, but it used too broad a brush and substitued texture for good development. The story needs whittling down and then sharpening to communicate the core idea, that existential premise, to readers. So now the project is extended to a rewrite of the last half of the book. The surgery is simple. Making the new words sing is the challenge.
And it looked so easy.