The first time I revised my novel, I got stuck on chapter one. Every day I’d sit down to revise, and I’d start on page one word one and get to work. I had good reasons for this. Chapter one was important. It was the beginning of the whole thing. It’s the first thing people will experience in the book, and it’s what will make them decide whether to continue on reading it, from the day I start trying to make it a real thing to the day it is a real thing and people who are not friends of mine doing me a favor start reading it. Every word of it had to be just right.
Over and over and over. Chapter one.
I finally revealed the truth that “revising my novel” had turned into “revising chapter one obsessively” and someone whose opinion mattered to me told me very directly to stop messing with chapter one and get on with it. The next day I sat down to revise and skipped chapter one entirely and made some good progress, eventually leading to an exchange that yielded art on the Internet.
Having been through it so many times, chapter one is the realest thing in the book to me. I don’t regret all the time I spent nudging words here and there because now that chapter feels like the thing that anchored me to work on the rest of the book, and which anchors the rest of the book in something I took great care with.
Right now, in my current revision, I’m on chapter 20. And, in a completely different context, I’m telling and hearing the same story over and over, and feeling it anchor me somewhere.
Back to the poem: Kira at Bashi