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January 22, 2021:

REVISING THE ENDING

Bruce Kimmel Photograph bk's notes

Well, dear readers, let’s start with the most interesting thing about yesterday, shall we? The most interesting thing about yesterday happened around six o’clock when Muse Margaret called. She’d just finished the final sixty-eight pages of the book. She began by saying she loved them, and she mentioned a few things in a way that I knew the news was not all going to be good, and indeed what came next wasn’t. She HATED the final three pages of the book, saying it had made her hate all the characters. Now, it’s no fun to hear stuff like that, but when she speaks, I listen even though it may take me aback, which it did. I asked her to explain and she did, and she said clearly that it just might be her and if I liked it then others might like it, too. But I have learned from the start of my writing journey that if she’s uncomfortable with something I need to at least understand the why of it and then look at it. Of course, when one hears something disheartening like that one thinks, oh dear, I have to rewrite the entire last part of the book, which is exactly where I went. But I made her keep talking, so I could understand clearly what was truly bothering her and why she suddenly hated a character that she absolutely loved. I can’t really go into too much detail as I’m not ready to divulge what this book actually is, but I explained why I wrote it the way I did. She read some of it back to me, explaining her issues, but it was basically one word she said that made me understand it. Can’t repeat the word but it just clarified that the way I’d gone with the ending wasn’t right for the lead character – at all – mostly because it wasn’t satisfying as the end of this character’s journey throughout the book and it didn’t leave the reader with an up feeling. And funnily, as I wrote those original last two paragraphs, I sensed they weren’t the right tone, although when I reread them the next morning they seemed okay. I’d also not followed my instinct about what the ending should be in terms of the book’s final sequence.

I then said that we should go through and figure out how to adjust things. This was an amorphous process, basically me saying what if a lot and as we hit on the key phrase in the book that one of the characters said, everything fell into place. I made notes right on the document in bold and then said that I’d call her back when I’d rewritten the most problematic part. But I’m not one for dallying, as you dear readers know, so I went to work and rewrote for about twenty minutes. And what is so amazing about this process is that once I figured out how to do what needed to be done, the revision was exactly one long speech and the half-page that followed it. That’s it. Basically, a page and a quarter changed the entire tone of what I’d written, made the lead character do the right thing in the right way and it was like someone had shined a bright light on something that needed to have that. I mean, one long speech, about two-thirds of a page, and the following four or five lines completely transformed everything. Other than that, two pages prior to that I removed one long sentence and put it in the revised long speech, where it worked so much better.

Then I completely nuked the final two paragraphs I’d written and wrote a new two-page chapter to wrap things up in a fun way and that, too, made the ending shine. And that involved a sequence between the two main characters, very brief, but really fun. I called her back and read her the new speech and subsequent few lines and she absolutely loved them and said it made everything right, especially for the protagonist. It also strengthened other things having to do with other characters, too. And she loved the coda chapter and laughed out loud at several of its lines. And that is why I always trust Muse Margaret. She knows me so well and understands my writing so well. As I said, this was similar to a situation with the ending of Rewind and that, too, was as simple as this and only involved changing three lines of dialogue. So, when I arise, I’ll make sure it’s as smooth as it needs to be, and that will be that.

Otherwise, I’m sitting here like so much fish, listening to Mr. Benjamin Britten’s wonderful piano concerto. Prior to that I’d listened to Die Tod Stadt, an opera by Erich Wolfgang Korngold, which I’m very fond of, and after that I listened to a more modern opera called Joseph Merrick, The Elephant Man, by French composer Laurent Petitgirard, who I’m a fan of from his film music, especially his scores for the long-running French TV series, Maigret, starring Bruno Cremer. I was mostly very taken with this opera, his first (from 1999, I think) – it’s very much like his film music, tonal, and dramatic and even lyrical at times.

Yesterday was a day, as you now know. I did get nine hours of sleep, arising at noon o’clock. I did things that needed doing, most of which had to do with project one. As you know, doing things during this crazy time is a learning curve for everyone, and I sort of got talked into doing a particular thing in a particular way and I learned that I should have done it the other way. It’s fine as we did it, but there are a couple of tiny issues that we’re trying to fix and that’s proving difficult – we’ll get it, I’m not worried about it – but doing it the other way would have meant no problems at all. But it really is just a couple of tiny things so we should be fine.

Then I made some hot dogs for food and those were excellent – red cabbage and cheese, no onions. After that, I delivered pages to Muse Margaret and then picked up a couple of packages. Then I came home and the rest you know because you know the rest.

Today, I’ll be up by ten-thirty, I’ll reread the new version of the ending of the book, I’ll work on the two tiny issues for project one, I’ll hopefully pick up some packages, I’ll eat, I’ll get a haircut, and then I’ll wait to hear if I’m seeing the first cut of project one. If not, I’ll just watch, listen, and relax.

Tomorrow, if I haven’t seen the first cut, then that will happen, otherwise I’m just relaxing on the weekend because I can and need to, because next week is very busy with planning the March Kritzerland, and getting the final cut of project one done, and then doing work on getting project two ready to go.

Well, dear readers, I must take the day, I must do the things I do, I must, for example, be up by ten-thirty, reread the new ending, work on two tiny issues, hopefully pick up some packages, eat, get a haircut, wait to hear about seeing project one, and then watch, listen, and relax. Today’s topic of discussion: It’s Friday – what is currently in your CD player and your DVD/Blu and Ray player? I’ll start – CD, more operas. DVD, Joseph Merrick, The Elephant Man opera. Your turn. Let’s have loads of lovely postings, shall we, whilst I hit the road to dreamland, happy to have revised the ending to the new book.

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