A Novel Is a Living Document

I’m still plugging along on my novel’s final revisions, and it amazes me all the depth my proof readers help me create and the problems they catch for me to repair. Every draft becomes richer and better realized until I hit publish at which point it stops growing.

Or does it?

JRR Tolkien was prone to revising between publications of his books, with changes of various sorts. It’s always been a point of pride that I have only read ONE edition of the Lord of the Rings, this 1965 Edition to be exact.

This is the exact edition that my dad has on his shelf, although his are smoke stained, which is another tale altogether.

But Tolkien wasn’t satisfied with his books, always working and tweaking and improving. Even causing inconsistencies in his world.

Right now it feels a bit like that. I think I’ve made it to the end of the novel, but then I get more feedback and see it in a new way, adding to different sections to make it stronger, deeper, better.

I won’t be entirely satisfied, I think, with what I have when I hit publish.

But it will be the best I can do, as of that moment in time.

Having read only one edition, though, I only see Tolkien’s work at one moment in time, the best he could do.

And that’s all this is, right? A snapshot of a story, held still in time, for you to enjoy.

2 thoughts on “A Novel Is a Living Document

  1. A lot of Tolkien’s early works contradict each other enormously.

    1. An endless source of arguments for fans! And some things he left out – he says hobbits have pointed ears, but doesn’t say one way or the other about elves. And does your Balrog…. have wings? 😛

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