The Disappearing Act

by Albert Bouffard

I had just finished writing the first two chapters, sixty pages, of my new book. Now came the hard part: revision. Maybe I should have gone directly to the next chapter but I thought a revision would allow me to take better stock of where I was. I had learned a lot since my first unsuccessful attempt to publish. Get rid of those adverbs; re-do those -ing words; careful about shifting voice; avoid the passive voice; show, don’t tell; get right into an action; think conflict and its causes and ramifications; say the same thing in fewer words; tighten it up. Such a lot to keep track of. But now I feel empowered, and eager to get going.

“How’s it going, hon,” asked my beautiful, talented, patient wife after my first day of revision.

“Great! I trimmed it down to 50 pages and it reads so much better.”

After a good night’s sleep, I sat down for a another day’s work. Who would have believed it – managed to cut another twelve pages. I’m killing my darlings and loving it. The following day brought another attack on the superfluous. Now I’m down to 25 pages of almost poetic compression. The diffused light of 60 pages is now the intense light of the noon day sun.

25 pages became 18 pages. 18 pages became 10 pages. 10 pages became 5 – 5 of the greatest pages ever written, at least by me. I needed to catch my breath, so I forced myself to take a day off, hard as it was.

The next day I snowshoed my way through the drifts of white paper covering my office floor, made it to my desk, inspired. I coupled that inspiration with hard work and at the end of the day, I had distilled those 10 pages to, you won’t believe this, one page. Oh, the ecstasy of creativity!

Now I had an inkling of what great artists must feel. The work had crossed the line into immortality. I could barely sleep that night. But I had a vision of sorts, a vision of the universe before the Big Bang. A singularity! All that is, all that ever will be, concentrated in an infinitesimal point. Eternity in a moment. The universe in a grain of sand. And now I knew how to finish my work.

By noon the next day I was down to 1 paragraph. By dinner time, one sentence. One powerful artistic singularity about to explode on the publishing world.

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