Thursday, January 14, 2010

Anne Tyler and Revision

Writely So directed me over to this interview with Anne Tyler:

BNR: How many drafts did you make of Noah's Compass? Was that more or less on par with the number of drafts you've made for other novels? Did any of your books come relatively easy, from beginning conceit to finished product?

AT: It all depends on how you count, but I'd say the book took four drafts. That's three longhand drafts before I entered it in the computer, and then I copied the computer version into longhand again. I read that fourth version into a tape recorder and then listened to the tape recorder while I followed along on the computer screen to pick up any minor changes I had made.

Ridiculous, I know. But it's more or less the way I've always done it, except for the three or four earliest books which I wrote without revising, under the mistaken impression that revising was a form of cheating. Nowadays, I love revising. I think of Draft One as work and the revisions as play.

My easiest book was Searching for Caleb, which felt like attending one long, merry party. My hardest was Noah's Compass. I didn't know why at the time, but now I think it was because it reminded me too much of my own current stage of life: no new milestones to look forward to.

To read the rest, click here.

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