I’m rewriting a story. I’ve been rewriting this story for the past two years. Every time I pull it out, I stare at the words on the screen, then decide I’d rather become a tightrope walker without a safety net. Instead of writing, I fold laundry, walk the dust bunnies, and stare out the window at the still falling snow.

I tell myself I’m thinking. Yeah, deep thoughts are good until they turn into the question: What if this story can’t be fixed?

So I put it away, only to pull it out a few months later. And the process begins once again.

Stare, think, jump in the truck and go visit my mom.

I’ve finally figured out that there’s an invisible wall between my current thought patterns and the way my brain worked when I first wrote this story. Back then, I wrote angst. Oh, how I loved to torture my characters, putting them into a world filled with emotional pain. Thumbscrews to the wall. Such writerly fun.

But then I went through a rough patch, a year when I desperately needed laughter in my life and couldn’t dredge any up. So it came out in my writing efforts.

I drafted four romantic comedies, relishing in the snark that showed up on the pages. Laughing with my heroes and heroines as they dealt with family and each other. I discovered a new home for my writing and a new voice to go along with it.

Still, this story drew me back. I loved the hero and heroine and desperately wanted to share them with the rest of the world. Soon laughter spilled onto the pages and my new voice crept into the manuscript. Every time I pulled it out, I bounced back and forth between the old story and new story, between my old voice and new voice, attempting to reconcile the two and find some balance between them.

I’m back at it again, torn between the angst and the humour, attempting to find a structure in which I can incorporate them both. Or maybe I’m just procrastinating, putting off the inevitable difficult work ahead or the realization that this manuscript can’t be fixed, that it needs to go into the deep dark recesses of my computer hard drive and vanish forever like a fugitive on the run.

What do you think? Have you ever decided to rewrite an old manuscript, only to discover you’ve changed and can’t change back? Have you ever had your voice change midstride, then tried to incorporate the new with the old? Have you ever read a book where the author seemed to struggle between two very different author personalities?

Come share your experiences with me. I’m walking on a tightrope, hoping someone will toss me a safety net.

(Originally published at Women Unplugged.)
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