Everyone knows that fiction writers revise, revise, revise, and then revise the revisions. Non-fiction should be easier, right? There’s a detailed outline. There’s background material. There’s a proposal with the tone, the style, the length — everything — discussed and settled.
None of this actually seems to help. I mean, there’s not quite the same wandering-in-the-wilderness-of-ideas feeling that comes with fiction, but there is still a heck of a lot of revising to do.
My first draft tends to involve wading through oceans of research and gathering the information that’s going to interest kids. I pull one fact from one source and another from a second source and a sidebar idea from a third, and then I have to double-check it all and fit it together on the page like a jigsaw.
The problem is this: when I go back and look the next day, my jigsaw puzzle is a picture of a gazebo in a rose garden. It’s ridiculously boring. It needs some cubism and abstract expressionism.
At the moment, I’m in the process of sifting through my most recent 50 Questions, finding places to lighten the tone, add the craziness, and up the variety.
And in the absence of abstract expressionism, I might go for the poo jokes.