Right now, I’m in the middle of going through my first draft of my YA novel and making major revisions — and it’s tough! I have a draft of one section tucked in my bag that’s peppered with changes. I’m shifting paragraphs around, slimming down the description, working to pump up the action, and rethinking the way the whole story unfolds and the way I’ve set up my plot points. And as I’m doing all this, I’m hoping that I don’t strip away too much — that my characters and my story are rich enough to hold a reader’s interest. It’s easy to become overly serious about this process and push the angst button.
That’s why I was so happy — relieved, really — to learn more about how Bruce Springsteen put together his classic album, Darkness on the Edge of Town. Bruce, it seems, was a bit of an overachiever: by one account, he wrote 70 songs for the album, but ended up using only 10. Apparently, in developing Darkness and other albums over the years, our boy Bruce has played fast and loose with some of his creations, moving riffs and words around from one song to another. This often resulted in what he called “multiversions of all kinds of things.”
“We were always pulling things apart. I had like a big junkyard of stuff….If something wasn’t complete, I just pulled out the parts I liked, like pulling the parts you need from one car (and) putting ‘em in the other, so that car runs.”
Calling his artistic output “a big junkyard of stuff” is a bit over the top for me. But what I love about this quote is Bruce’s attitude about making things work. He doesn’t view himself as an artiste’, but as a craftsman, a tinkerer. The whole image of the creative process as a kind of car is refreshing, isn’t it? You just pull out your tools, get under the hood, dump this, move that, tinker a bit, tune things up and you’re ready to ride. Revising, here I come!