Editing Uncle Virgil, 2012 rewrites on a novel written in early 1990s, the enovel experience

Bringing “Uncle Virgil” out of the closet after all these years is proving more difficult than I’d imagined. The Arkansas tale was written back in the late 1980s through 1992 and edited in detail last in 1996. The voice went from omniscient narrator to third-person to first-person, the main female protagonist became Mama, switching to Aunt Katherine and then back again to Mama. Cratch, the mailman, remained constant but now, the fanatic Lawrence Trueblood and his mother The Sainted Carlotta Juanita  probably need new last names, what with HBO stealing my True Blood thunder over the last few years.

Combined with technology’s insidious spread over the last two decades and the ubiquitous use of cellphones, laptops and Wikipedia, my Uncle Virgil now must be placed securely in its time frame. I suppose this is true with any conventional novel. Time and place are foremost in plot development. But even as I write that, my mind becomes infused with an alternative Virgil, one who lives in the now of 2012 but walks around in his 1970s self — all the while secreting devices and technical means of communication and information gathering of the 2012 into his every day life. And this illustrates the problem with any edit, any rewrite … any idea one might have that work is complete. That writing is finished. A book ready for publishing? Now there hops in another idea, what if I created a book I change with alternative universes, every day adding the current technological advance to the day before when the item or object did not exist. One day Aunt Katherine dials the phone and the next day, I change the action from dialing to punching in numbers, although both actions require a curling coil tether from phone to human. Enter the portable phone. Exit the portable phone and enter the cell phone. The constantly updating novel…

Crap. I might never get through with editing the 1990 version of Uncle Virgil! How can I stick with yesterday when today keeps biting at my ankles?

My plan, as of this morning, is to create an edited Uncle Virgil on the MacAir that I work on each morning and only edit syntax, grammar and the like. Then, on the iMac, downstairs in my studio tech-world of fun scanners and digital doohickeys, I create the alternative universe progressive enovel. A paragraph from 1996 Uncle Virgil with a parallel 2012 version.

One “Dancing with Uncle Virgil” edited, written and sent out into the world as an e-publication with its time and space continuum as a constant non-changing entity. This Virgil published in iBook Author, depending on template or formatting difficulties such as “do I want photos or just text”, etc so it might  come to life as a plain text type of .pdf.

Another “Uncle Virgil in a Parallel Arkansas” here on the internets, a space-time continuum ever changing and responding to technological advances. Two novels. One mired in what is now “traditional” print and offered online as a static text document and another offered on a continually evolving scale.

I’d love to hear from you if you have any comments about the process. I’m setting up an email precisely for this type of conversation or you can add a comment to this post and discuss. Send comments to editormule at gmail com.


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    2 Responses to Editing Uncle Virgil, 2012 rewrites on a novel written in early 1990s, the enovel experience

    1. umberto says:

      reading about your writing is exhausting. good thing i know you’re up for it. i wrote a short story years ago and the hardest/best part was giving them all names. some of them ‘came’ named, i didn’t hardly even have to ask. nothing — nothing beats southern literature.

    2. How can I stick with yes­ter­day when today keeps bit­ing at my ankles?

      I can honestly see the merits of both options. There’s nothing at all wrong with keeping the original timeline, after all audiences positively lap up fiction that takes place in yesteryears, and it can still remain absolutely relevant to the wonderous NOW because you’re telling a story, after all, about people. As for the “Parallel Arkansas”, that idea has tremendous potential–and sounds completely intimidating! Best of luck 😀 (I look forward to your updates.)

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