After my summer of arting it up, I return to writing! Okay, so I didn’t really stop writing this summer. More like I scaled backed my time commitment to it for a bit. But like Die Hard, I return with a vengeance. Four weeks ago, I started a SUPER AWESOME BIG TIME REWRITE (always all caps).
I'm talking a revamp as drastic as that DC Comics’ New 52 re-launch what got fan boys and girls all riled up this summer. (I’m mostly neutral in regards to all that, but I do think the new Harley Quinn costume sets a new bar for truly and gut-wrenchingly dreadful. Hopefully, in my rewrite, I’m making better changes than this.)
She used to be so adorably psychotic.
But I digress. Allow me to return to the point.
Contrary to the seemingly popular sentiment, I like rewriting. But this is my biggest rewrite yet (hence the all caps and use of the words “super” and “awesome” and “big time” to describe it). I thought I’d pulled off some major rewrites in the past. A couple of years ago I decided to switch a WIP from third person to first. Last year—or was it this year? It blurs!—I cut 26,000 words from another manuscript. And I thought, “Hey, that’s what I call some super awesome big time rewriting! Go, Cacy!”
Oh, how young and naive I was then.
Now I realize that I had no right to call snipping a few “just”s and “that”s from a manuscript a rewrite because this thing I’ve been working on is a stripped down, start from scratch, forget-everything-you’ve-already-written-and-re-written-(and-re-written-again), forget-that-full-length-manuscript-you-slaved-over-for-like-two-years-or-something-because-it’s-all-going-out-the-window type of rewrite.
Everything must go and anything that remains must change! The setting, the starting point, the relationships, shifting personal histories, adding a new major character, changing the sex of another. It’s chaos, chaos, chaos I’m telling you.
Chaos that has been mulled over and reasoned out before being implemented, that is.
It took me a long time to come to the point where I’m able to do this. I had to not look at and barely think about this particular story for five months. The changes I’m making come from ideas I’d had for good a long while, but I had been too close to the previous version. After all the work I had put into it, how could I entertain the idea of starting the whole process all over again. For the SAME story!
Do I look like a glutton for punishment?
What it really came down to was the fact that I love this story.
And no else one did. None of my readers. Not even my mom and she’s maternally obligated to love everything I write. The people I asked to read it liked it… Basically… In that, “Yeeeah…it was good” sort of way. But “Yeeeah…it was good” is not what I’m aiming for here. In fact, I’m pretty sure one reader didn’t even finish it.
I can take a hint.
Yes, I know. Opinions are subjective and they’re like armpits and all that, but when I really examined what I had completed (after not looking at it for months), I had to admit that it fell short for me too.
I remember one of my writing teachers saying, “Don’t be that guy who drags the same manuscript around to every conference for seven years trying to make it work. When it doesn’t work, let it go.”
That’s sound advice, but I just can’t let it go. Something about this manuscript compels me to keep at it. I return to it time after time. I really believe in these characters, I believe this story can be exciting and engaging, and I can’t give up on it.
And hey, if this rewrite turns out terribly, I still have all my old drafts on a flash drive.