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.
Have you heard the tale about the curious little girl who, after breakfast one morning, left the house and headed down the block to grandma’s house for supper? (Don’t worry … this isn’t one of those tales where the girl gets eaten by the big bad wolf.)
Well, the story goes something like this.
The little girl spotted her neighbour’s prize roses, stopped to enjoy their irresistible scent, and ended up staying for milk and cookies. By the time she left, it was almost noon.
A little further down the street, she stopped at another neighbour’s yard to check out the goldfish in the new pond, and decided to stay for lunch.
By early afternoon, she was back on the road, determined to make it all the way this time. Except in the next yard, she spied a flock of hummingbirds feasting on some impatiens and before she could control the impulse, she’d joined the neighbour for tea.
When the little girl finally arrived at grandma’s house, it was dark, supper was over, and grandma had gone to bed.
This week, I’m that little girl. Everything around me is shiny and new and so very distracting. And I know exactly why.
I’ve resumed rewrites on my women’s fiction story.
After reading through the opening chapters, I’ve discovered I’ve barely left the house, that there’s a really long journey ahead, for both my characters and for me. I’m sure I’ll occasionally be witty and brilliant, but at this stage of the rewrites, the work still sucks and all I want to do is shove the story back under the bed and find something better to work on.
So how do you keep yourself focused on your job, whatever it might be? Are there moments when your focus splinters and you find yourself ready to tackle the most dangerous stunt, if it will only save you from the dreariness ahead? Or do you put on blinders, refuse to get distracted, and stay the course until the end?
Another year has come and gone. 2011 was fun and productive. I learned a lot about indie publishing and in the process, even managed to get some writing done. 🙂
A huge thank you goes out to D.D. Scott and Tonya Kappes from the WG2EP blog. They have been a huge source of information, sharing the details of their indie publishing journey with everyone who stops to read their blog.
Another thank you goes out to my CaRWA chapter mates. This group of women — plus one terrific guy — are warm, caring, and welcoming. Although I live four hours away from the group and am unable to attend the monthly chapter meetings, not a day goes by without chatter on our chapter email loop.
I’d also like to thank the Bandit Creek group, whose special comradery has resulted in a 33 book series by 32 authors. My book comes out on July 15, 2012. I will be forever grateful to Vivi Anna aka Tawny Stokes for being the driving force behind this endeavor.
Also, a special thanks to Kristen Lamb and the WANA1011 team. It’s true. We Are Not Alone! Through The WANA class, I’ve met so many awesomely supportive people.
And last but not least, a very very special thanks to my long time friends Ann Voss Peterson, Susan Vaughan, Linda Style, and Virginia Kelly. I met these terrific women during the Outreach International contest way back in 1989 and we have been friends ever since. They have read and critiqued and encouraged me while I tried to understand plot and structure … and they finally succeeded in getting this important knowledge past my thick skull, into my brain, out my fingertips, and onto my computer screen. I love you girls so much. You are the best writer friends a girl could ever hope for!
So from my house to all of yours, I wish everyone a safe and Happy New Year. See you in 2012.
A few years ago, my husband decided it was time to decorate the house, you know, like regular folks do at Christmas, with more than just a Christmas tree. Since I’m not much of a decorator, he went out himself and bought a whole whack of Santa ornaments. When our youngest son came home from work that night and saw the house littered with Santa figures, he said, “Our house puked Santa.”
Since then, it’s been a running household joke. This year, when the boy removed Santa from his bathroom counter and stuck the figure on a shelf where we would be sure to find it, we decided to have a little fun. Every day, the boy would come home and find Santa in a different location.
The first day we tucked Santa into the boy’s bed. When the boy arrived home and found him, not a word was said.
The next day, we went looking for Santa. The boy had hidden him so well, we had to search the whole house. Finally, we found him on the top shelf of a book cabinet. This time, Santa got a note hung from his beard and we put him on the counter next to the fridge, where the boy usually leaves his lunch kit. The note said, “My darling boy, I missed you so much today, I cried while you were away. Your parents won’t play with me. Please take me to work with you tomorrow.”
Again, Santa was not mentioned but it was obvious the boy’s after-work mood was getting a much needed lift.
The next morning, we located Santa in our bathtub. Because this Santa was of Scottish heritage, we left the boy a note that said, “I’m Scottish and I like to go commando. I dare you to look under my skirt.”
And so the countdown to Christmas continued, with the boy hiding Santa every night and us finding fun ways to entertain him… or perhaps we were simply entertaining ourselves.
Do you have a holiday Grinch in your family and if so, what kind of tricks do you use to beat humor the grinchiness out of him/her?