Re-Visioning from the Core

My two major creative projects are running in tandem for the moment.

My husband and I are making changes to our new house that we want done before we bring furniture over at the end of next week. These are the big projects, the ones that are painful to do while living in the space, the floors.

My novel is undergoing major surgery. The big stuff. The stuff where you throw out most of the words and hang on to a few core pieces of story.

The carpet in the basement bar had to go - along with the half-disintegrated rubberized pad underneath.

In both projects, I see huge potential. But both require digging deep and getting dirty.

In the house, we are tearing up flooring and putting in new carpet and new hardwood floors. To save money, we have ripped out the old flooring ourselves and have hired a small business to put the new floors down. We split the job. I did most of two rooms and my husband finished the second room and tore up a third. Both of us have committed to this new house with blood and toil.

The revisions to my novel will not be finished so quickly, and I have to do both the destruction and the rebuilding. But I have the same sense of tearing away the surface of the work to find the centre that will hold. There will be new covering for the ideas that work and for the core story that is being told.

But, the colours, the textures, the mood, and even the point of view are all up for grabs.

What's underneath doesn't always work easily together and needs to be carefully recombined.

As I dig deeper past my fears, I find the story needs to be told through different scenes in different locations, with a different cast of characters. There is a creamy centre to the work that I will care for, but the outer coating is being melted down into raw materials.

This is scary. I have a lot of words that will not make the cut. But, for now, I am not even looking at the words. I have a spreadsheet with a description of each scene that currently exists in my manuscript and I am transforming that scene list into a beat sheet. Only when I have completed that transformation will I start to write again.

And by then, I should have furniture and wall hangings in my new home.

But the cosmetic stuff will come later. Right now, it is all about the guts.

The goal is readers.

I must thank Patrick Ross for sharing some of the wisdom he gained from Patricia Hampl during his MFA residency, which gave me a wonderful perspective on deep editing. From them comes the idea of Re-Visioning rather than fixing the mess that currently is my work in progress.


About Kate Arms-Roberts

Posted on February 17, 2012, in Creativity, Daily Life, Interplay, This Writing Life and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Yes, that carpet DID have to go! It looks like maybe it had to go about 30 years ago… 😉

    Good luck with your revisions on your novel–I like the correlation you used with renovating your home. It makes the whole process of deep editing slightly less scary when you realize that you have to make those excavations to make room for shiny new and improved!

  2. Thanks, Donna.

    You are absolutely right about it feeling less scary to make such deep changes to the novel in the context of this home renovation.

    For some reason, I am seeing parallels between this house and all sorts of areas in my life these days. It seems to be a external reflection of my internal growth.


  3. Hi Kate, a great parallel here between revising both your home and the novel, and glad the re-visioning post was helpful to you! Here’s hoping that in fact the novel re-visioning is less taxing than the home improvement. I must say, though, as someone who once aspired to be a professional darts player, that’s a nice-looking bristle-board mounted there on the wall; if that conveyed with the house, it’s something to celebrate!

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