Oeuvre becomes Obelus

I did some radical surgery on Oeuvre over the weekend. I cut about 21,000 words from the 122,000-word document.

That was a bulk cut, not a judicious paring of extraneous words here and there throughout the manuscript. Oeuvre has four parts. The first two are the substance of the story; the second two are more like commentaries on it, alternative histories and interpretations. I had originally wanted to include them because four novellas figure in the story, and I thought it would be magically meta to have four parts to my novel as well.

But those latter two parts had their weaknesses. Much of it felt forced and didn’t really add to the story. I’d been feeling uncertain about them for about a month, especially when I wrote a synopsis for the two sections and felt underwhelmed with what I had, so I thought I would try cutting them and seeing how I feel with the result. I’m now in the process of seeing how I feel with the result.

I did retain one bit of the excised text, having an appropriate place to slip it into the surviving story. I liked the bit and would have been sorry to lose it since it was a nice scene for a nice character.

Honestly, I don’t think the work suffers from the severe editing. I’ll watch how I feel in the days ahead.

I was also never in love with the overall title Oeuvre. I thought it was otiose. The title of the third section was Obelus, which is, among many other meanings for the word, a typographer’s symbol to indicate that a passage is spurious or doubtful, and that ties in nicely with the theme of the story. So Oeuvre has become Obelus.

And I think I that at least three of the pieces from the deleted fourth section, Olios, can stand alone as short stories. Once I feel fully confident that my change is good and permanent, I’ll probably begin shopping those around. (Actually, one of them began as a short story, and it was what inspired me to write the novel, so it has a nice pedigree and evolution.) My other novel, One-Match Fire, which is in circulation and getting periodic rejections, has twenty-four chapters, and I managed to get ten of them published as stand-alone stories. Then I began to hear dire judgments that I had forfeited the first publishing rights to them and could never get the novel published as a whole. I did a little research, and even asked a few agents and editors if this was true, and I was assured it was not. (There is so much contradictory conventional wisdom in this world of writing that I am convinced I must just keep my own counsel.) Anyway, I’m still a little cautious about trying to get those three pieces from Olios published until I am certain they will not be part of Obelus any longer.

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Any WordPress experts out there? I am getting messages saying that the autosave function will not work and that I do not have permission to save my own blog posts. I poked around in my settings, and even changed my password, and I seem to have found a workaround. But if anyone knows what is wrong or how to fix it, I’d be glad to hear.

Explore posts in the same categories: Omphalos, Ouroboros

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