Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Receiving the Marked-up Manuscript and the I Ching story about the fox crossing the river...

There is a lovely I Ching that I keep attempting to remember as I enter this next phase with True. Here, I'll find it so you can read it - ah, found here. The I Ching, for those of you who aren't ancient hippies, is a Chinese divination method. One uses yarrow sticks, or more commonly, coins, in order to access the future.
64. Wei Chi –Before Completion

Above: The Clinging, Fire
Below: The Abysmal, Water

As opposed to the previous hexagram, where the forces of summer have reached their heightand are beginning to decay, here we close the Book of Changes with the cheerful outlook of the seasons upturning of winter to spring. Things are hopeful, and success is assured as one's goal can unite opposing forces and bring them to flourish, drawing the order and prosperity of summer from the confusion and shadows of winter. But one must be cautious—the task is dangerous and full of responsibility—the image of a fox crossing the melting ice. This is a proverbial image in China. An old fox crosses the frozen lake cautiously, light on its feet, its ears always perked up listening for a crack underfoot, as even the slightest nick might mean grave danger. However, the younger fox proceeds boldly, recklessly even, and just as it is about to make it to his destined shore falls through a rift in the ice and gets its tail wet, ruining the whole purpose of the crossing. It might as well have swam! The fox should have been more attuned to the right way to conceive of the changes in nature, and brought itself in line with these accordingly. This is the entire premise of the Book of Changes—bring harmony without within, and bring harmony within without. With this principle one may cross the great water.
You may well ask what this has to do with my current manuscript, True. Everything! Right from the git-go I have wanted to proceed cautiously with this novel. Half-way through it I stopped as I didn't really grasp structure. I stopped and wrote a mystery, The Rock Walker, to teach myself how to do that. Then I went back at it and finished it. I went cautiously with my revisions, seeking help and paying attention to my usual impulse to rush the end and get it out into the world. That is why I sent it to someone who could take a very cool eye to it and do both a micro and macro edit of the thing.

Now I have it back. All covered in quite legible notes and ready for me to tackle this next phase. I talked with the person who edited it for me at length and will be able to do more of this as I go through. We discussed some of the bigger problems - enriching the protagonist and a few of the other characters - making sense of some of my decisions or changing them BUT no huge structural or plot changes. Whew! It was a great session and I'm pumped to get at it. I got it a week early and I am stopping my work on The Rock Walker and will devote the next couple of months to this. And if that isn't enough - I will take more time. I want this book to be as excellent as I can make it. I love the story and for the most part I am very happy with my rhythm in the book - now is the time to brighten and tighten it. Not to rush it and risk getting my 'tale' wet, but to get to the far bank with this story all beautiful and bushy and ready to be appreciated.


welcome to my world of poetry said...

I wish you well with the book Jan,Loved the read.


Richard said...

It's hard to do it right, but should be worth it in the end.

Carol Kilgore said...

Good for you. I'll be where you are in a couple of months. I hope I get as good a report on my baby :)

Hart Johnson said...

Oh, congrats on getting it back and being ready for the next step! I love that image of the fox. I ALSO feel like I learned structure in writing mystery--it forces the pieces that need to be there and disallows a lot of meandering and I needed the discipline. I am still that young fox on my first draft, but I've gotten considerably more cautious on what I send out to whom and when. Erm... or so I keep telling myself.

GigglesandGuns said...

Congrats on True!
This post was a learning moment for me.
Thank you.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Ready to tackle revisions! An editor that will work with you verbally is a plus.

Jan Morrison said...

Yvonne – thanks my deario! I dived in today and it was fun.

You’ve got that right, Richard. I’m holding out for gold!

Carol – good, we can nurse along together!

Oh Tartlette – yes, a mystery forces structure but the weird thing is that it is my mystery that needs structural changes – not True.

Mary – great! This whole adventure is one big school if you ask me.

Diane – this is an editor that I’m paying not one connected to a publisher so yes, I need to work with her verbally. It is a wonder!