Writing is Rewriting, they always say
I shudder now when I think that I would have published the old draft," says Mr. Chabon ... Instead, after consultations with his editor, he spent about eight months reworking the entire book ... He added a flashback structure and pared down the language.
Next week, after five years, four drafts, two trips to Alaska [for research] and a title change, [the new novel] will arrive in stores ... The first draft of the alternate-history novel, more than 600 pages long and in the first person, "didn't work," Chabon says, in part because the narrator was too garrulous. "I wanted to have more distance from him," Mr. Chabon says. So he started over with a different plot and in third person.
"He's a writer of terrific extravagance in the language but great subtlety on the emotional side," says [Chabon's editor]. "A lot of what I was doing was coaxing him to come a little closer to the reader." "I do overwrite," [Chabon] says. "And this book needed a lot of chopping."