So I took Monday off and went to Six Flags with some of my buddies. Not a bad way to miss work. Luckily, since it was a weekday, the lines were not too bad. The only ride that had a long line (and was a lousy ride) was the Scooby Doo ride. I’m still not sure why we went on that one. We started off by hitting the park’s newest ride, The Batman. But to be honest, it wasn’t that great. It was over just as soon as it started. Not that memorable. Sorry. For me the best rides we went on were Goliath, Superman, and the Iron Rattler. We also hit up the water park but I think I would have been fine just sticking to the regular rollercoasters. By the end of the time we were all pretty tired puppies. Carl had to call it quits early and go and sit in the car with the AC blasting. Adam said we walked about eleven miles in the Texas heat—and that’s not counting all the time we had to just stand in line. The park closed at eight, which felt pretty early to me, but we were all exhausted so we finished the day by going to a pizza buffet and loading up on cheese and carbs. My buddy Nick came with us and it was great to get to hang out with him since he is moving away. His girlfriend, Cheyenne, recently accepted a position at the University of Oklahoma and he’s heading up to live with her. Nick and I haven’t been able to hang out as much since he usually works the weekends so it was nice to have one last hurrah.
In other news I’ve spent most of this week revising my story “A Quiet Place to Hide.” This is the story I’ll be reading at the Western Literature Association Conference in Reno this October. I wanted to have it spruced up so I could submit it for consideration of the Frederick Manfred Award. Luckily, I made the cut off but I have no idea what my chances are. I think a lot of the previous winners have been works of creative non-fiction and poetry. But hey, you can’t win if you don’t play.
Sometimes I really enjoy revision. I like taking apart my sentences and making them cleaner, stronger, better. Other times the whole process is maddening. Like those moments when you realize you’ve had your characters up for forty-eight hours and nobody is tired. Or when that house you described on page one as being made of brick is now wood and falling apart on page eleven. For me the most important part of revision is asking myself if the pay-off has been earned—or should I say “won”? I want my fiction to have a certain emotional grip on the readers. But that won’t happen by telling them “and that’s really sad.” I have to make the readers get invested so when the characters win, lose, suffer, or succeed it really means something. There has to be real danger. There has to be real risk. And there has to be real rewards. At least in my world. And so for me a lot of revision is sitting alone in a room and daydreaming about what is it going to take to get to that point—to what big Aristotle refers to as “A point of discovery.” I think that’s why revision and rewriting always takes longer than writing that first draft. Isn’t it glamorous?