I read an interview with Khaled Hosseini in Time Magazine. He’s best known for the haunting ‘The Kite Runner’ in 2003, but he was discussing his new novel ‘And The Mountains Echoed.’
One of the things he said really hit home with me. “My first drafts are always rather flat and disappointing. It’s a little bit like when you move into a home. You haul all your stuff and shove it in the house; the things you need are there, but it looks horrible and doesn’t feel like a home at all. The subsequent draft is about saying, OK, this couch belongs here. Let’s get rid of this painting. Let’s put the armoire here.”
I love that analogy and it comes at a good time for me as I’ve just moved a new set of characters into their new home.
There are problems with the analogy, however. For one thing, with your household goods, you see them all at a glance, making it easy to survey your treasures and (re)arrange them. The couch gets too much sun there … try the other wall. Put the torchiere in the corner. Let’s try standing the coffee table on all four legs instead of propped against the wall. Ah, much better.
Second, and more importantly, you knew what belonged in the living room. You didn’t stick a bed in the corner, pile the flatware on a bookcase, and park the lawnmower under the picture window.
This is what my work-in-progress feels like to me right now. A lawnmower in the living room. I know it doesn’t belong there, but I can’t for the life of me figure out what to do with it.
Do I shine it up all sparkly and leave it there? Do I move it to the bedroom? Do I even need a lawnmower? Should I push it into the garage and set it on fire? Should I abandon it on the curb and pray some kind soul hauls it away for me?
Third, when you bought your new house, you knew what you needed. Four bedrooms, two-and-a-half baths, 2-car garage, fenced yard for the kids and dog. Easy peasy.
My characters’ house has eighteen rooms, no bathrooms, three kitchens and a bedazzled heliport. Plus a lawnmower in the living room.
Anyone want to help me move?