Yesterday, well, I worked on Tails of Tales of Pain and Wonder, the
A good and timely question yesterday, from Nowell by way of MySpace:
You've discussed making changes to your previously published work quite a bit in the past month(s). How much are you changing details versus simply making editorial corrections to grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc? I am particularly interested in the changes to Silk for the third (?) edition? While novels like Low Red Moon and Daughter of Hounds are great, as well, Silk seems interesting to teach because it deals so directly with the young, the disenfranchised, and the working poor. Threshold does this, too, to some extent, but some of this focus seems to have faded from the latter novels as characters are more aligned with graduate school, the supernatural, or professional jobs. This isn't meant as criticism, just something that seems to have happened (maybe you won't agree that this has happened?).
I agree, there has been a shift in my novels, away from the sorts of characters who were the focus of books like Silk and Tales of Pain and Wonder. I wrote Silk in my late twenties and early thirties, and a lot of it was me writing about personal experiences and people I'd known in my teens and twenties. And there was only so much I had to say about those things, and I think I pretty much wrote it all out a long time ago (a lot of it also went into The Dreaming). As for the recent editing, it has varied from book to book. A lot of it has been for grammar and continuity errors and suchlike, but there has also been quite a bit of stylistic editing. Re-reading Silk, I could no longer "hear" the voice it was written in, and what once seemed poetic to me had become too often jangling. So, I toned down the impressionism, you might say, and made the sentence structure somewhat more standard. I'm still not sure if this was the "right" thing to do, but it's what I've chosen to do. Of all the books, Silk has been most heavily "revised," with Threshold in second place. By comparison, Low Red Moon and Murder of Angels were edited hardly at all for the new (or, in the case of MoA, forthcoming) mass-market paperback editions. This is, I suspect simply because I've become a better writer over the last decade, the period spanned by these novels, so the more recent the book, the happier I was with it. I hope that makes some sort of sense, as I have not yet had coffee or alcohol. Also, nowhere have I made any significant changes to character or plot.
Last night, Byron joined us at our favourite Thai restaurant, and then the three of us came back here and watched Brad Bird and Jan Pinkava's Ratatouille. It's really a wonderful film and has been added to my "best of 2007" list. I'm quite certain it's the overall best film that Pixar has released thus far, and was sorry we didn't see it in a theatre. I was especially pleased with the following bit of dialogue from food critic Anton Ego (voiced with perfection by Peter O'Toole):
In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little, yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face is that, in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is more meaningful than our criticism designating it so. But there are times when a critic truly risks something, and that is in the discovery and defense of the new.
This is, I think, an utterly brilliant bit of commentary on criticism, whether one is talking about cooking, books, film, or what have you. Anyway, yes, a wonderful film.
Today is the beginning of the 2007 Jethro Tull season. I began it late this year, so that I might reap the full benefits during the bleak December that lies ahead of me. And bleak it shall be, I have no doubt.