Arthur Golden on Revision

Hate revising? Revision often leads to success. Just ask Arthur Golden, author of the bestselling Memoirs of a Geisha.

When I started writing Memoirs of a Geisha, I made an acceptable first draft using a third-person point of view, though I didn”t show it around. That took about two years. Shortly after that, I met Mineko, a woman who had been a geisha for many years in the Gion district.

I interviewed her and followed her around Kyoto; what I learned from her took my understanding of a geisha”s daily existence and stood it on its head. I threw out my entire 750-page draft and started from scratch.

I wrote for another few years. I thought I had done a good job … [but] I got word that the readers (including three friends of mine who were experienced writers) found the manuscript “dry.” I realized that I had been holding Sayuri at arm”s length, emotionally, and that was the problem. I started over again in May 1994, writing in the first person this time.

This article appeared in Writer”s Market. Check out the current editions of the Market Books Series from Writer”s Digest Books.

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