In Maniac Magee, Spinelli begins by trying not to let “the facts interfere with the truth.” I borrowed a similar sentiment for my second novel where the main character is trying to explain herself after a disastrous slip of the tongue and needs to tell the entire school what the facts are while still concealing the truth. It turns out that doing both are not mutually exclusive.
This morning I came across a Faulkner quote in Writing Changes Everything, my go-to book for writing inspiration. He said, “Facts and truth really don’t have much to do with each other.” It’s certainly the philosophy behind Fox News (how do they sleep at night?) and a good one to keep in mind while creating fiction (which incidentally is what each and every one of Fox’s reporters do).
The facts are fuzzy in the case of my second novel. I am working on my umpteenth revision. I honestly have no idea how many times I have reworked this book and every time I come to the end of a draft, I’m happy with it but when I dig in again I find there’s more to mine. Pure gold! And then: dull lead when editors say “no.” I also don’t have any idea how long I’ve been working on this book. The original draft was so different from what it is now that I think one story may have morphed into another and the seeds of this novel are buried somewhere in a different folder for a different book.
The truth is still the same: I have been working on this book for several years, at least since Angel’s Grace was released, but I had been thinking about it for years before that. I have worked my ass off trying to craft it. I have something specific to say in this book, something that I think is important enough to spend years bashing my brains in to get it right. I’m now working on what I hope is my final revision. I love the book. I fear it will never make it. I am extremely cautious in my optimism. My optimism is nearly non-existent.
We’ll see what happens.