What I didn’t keep track of, and what I wish I had, was how many hours I spent writing on blank sheet of paper versus how many hours I spent fine tuning word choice, toning sentences, and questioning commas. With every sentence, I wondered, what would Strunk and White do? I can’t say that every sentence channels The Elements of Style, but I can say that (1) every minute I spent rewriting is a minute well spent and (2) I’m certain that the time spent rewriting vastly outnumbers the time spent writing.
It has been really fun for me to witness the art corollary to this. Illustrator Sandra Lanz has been going through the book and finding things to tweak here and there that have I didn’t even realize we needed, but of course once I’ve seen her improvements, I can’t unsee how right they are. I’ve got 2 examples that demonstrate the range of changes below. I don’t think there are any spoilers in here, but if that is a concern of yours, don’t click below!
1) Slight changes in illustrations:
The sky in the second image looks like it is taken off the stage of a Japanese shadow-puppet theater, and somehow, the effect makes the birds seem much more menacing. The other big change, of course, pertains to the size and the pacing of the caption boxes. I’m curious (and currently ambivalent) as to how these alter the reading experience, but I do like how this unifies the pages.
2) Big rewrites
The changes on this page are far more dramatic, reflecting the fact that on page 5 of the story, we were still learning about the characters and the world they inhabit. Sandra’s lines are far more determined and certain in the second approach to the page, but I look at the earlier version of the page very fondly. It is as though looking at the childhood pictures of a dear friend.