I stay home
Reading books that are beneath me,
And working on my work,
Which no one understands.

-- King Missile, 'Sensitive Artist'

Reposted from steveweddle.com

Twenty years ago I was in Shreveport having dinner with King Missile. A few of us from the college radio station, KSCL, took the guys out for seafood on the south part of town, down around 70th Street on that stretch between Youree and Clyde Fant.

The name of the restaurant? Well, not to get all ‘Dead Milkmen’ on you, but that’s not important right now. What’s important right now is that you ask me why I was thinking about King Missile this weekend.

Working through an 85,000-word manuscript has been a strange and sobering experience. Perhaps the “sobering” is the problem. By the way, the guys from King Missile could drink. Seriously, I think we had to get rid of the yearbook that year because all our student funds went to pitchers of Abita.

Revising and editing a novel isn’t just about adding in stuff you need or taking out stuff you don’t. This has really been a time to shape the book, to trim the fat away from the steak before you serve it to your guests. Speaking of which, the guys could eat, too. Shrimp and crawfish. Piles of shells and fins and legs all over that place.

So, some of the themes of a book could get cut, moved around, or changed all together. Leitmotifs become much more “lite,” characters who die on page 87 just cease to exist from the beginning, and that great work of art, that sprawling masterpiece containing every scrap of your sensitive soul, turns into a book that someone might actually read.

And yet, the result is a tighter piece of work cleaner and comprehensible, thanks to a half-dozen amazing beta readers (BRs), the world’s best agent (WBA), and the artistic, sensitive soul (ASS).

And so, I give you, King Missile’s ‘Sensitive Artist’ for your viewing pleasure.

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