Three years after writing a novel called The Fortress for my eight-year-old son, I’m taking on the fourth revision.
It’s got a new title, In the Pathless Woods, inspired by Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, the 18th century narrative poem by George Gordon, Lord Byron.
Byron’s verse replaces a simple placeholder I’d inserted at the time, filler as quick and simple as this: Rockabye baby, in the treetop. When the wind blows, the cradle will rock.
Instead the reader gets:
There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep sea, and music in its roar…
So already things are improving with just a few, swift cosmetic changes.
The harder part, I discovered, lay deeper down. My characters lacked back story. Entirely independent of the line-edit process, I spent two weeks mulling where my two darlings came from, including in near-total isolation for a period of 72 hours.
Exhausting, at times seemingly fruitless, the results are now in. I almost believe in them. Check back tomorrow, with courage I’ll share a sample.