“Half my life is an act of revision.” -John Irving
“Books aren’t written–they’re rewritten. Including your own. It is one of the hardest things to accept, especially after the seventh rewrite hasn’t quite done it.” – Michael Crichton
Linger’s close-ish to being done – another twenty pages or so should do it. My editor’s comments (because I’ll have another round of revising with this one) should get it fleshed out another twenty pages beyond that. But for now, all I need to concentrate on is twenty more pages.
The thing is, even though this is the book that wants to kill me, I did it to myself. I did it to myself a little bit on purpose too…because I wanted to do something different. Because I wanted to stretch a bit. So I think it hurts because it’s one of those growth books.
Why did I know it was going to be hard? Well, first off, I took the second book I ever completed (which was really one of my first books, since I completed two in tandem) and I took the characters and their backgrounds and I rewrote the story itself completely for Linger. The only thing recognizable somewhat is the opening scene. Add to that, it’s a reunion story and I personally love reading and writing strangers-who-meet stories. I think reunion stories are incredibly difficult to pull off well and so it became a personal challenge.
The first new version I wrote of Linger, back in January was incredibly easy. Too easy. And it didn’t work. Armed with my editor’s suggestions, I tried to rework it. And it didn’t work, no matter how hard I fought it. So I had to back away from what I wanted and what my editor suggested, plot-wise, and I had to come up with something different that still incorportated the main idea of what she was looking for. In the process I also had to please myself because, at the end of the day, it’s still my book. And I have to love it. Even when I hate it.
My editor assures me that the emotion and the intensity (at least in the first half she read) are there. My agent always tells me that writers are too close to their own work to see what needs to be done, and that’s why an editor is so important. I totally agree.
It’s funny, because Larissa and I (mainly Larissa) finished the CEs for Sydney’s Unleashing The Storm yesterday. And I remember the CEs for Riding The Storm – and trust me – they weren’t bad, but I remember it took a good three days to really get through them, make some of the wording changes, etc. In my inbox from yesterday I have a list of maybe 10 pages that needed some work, most of that the addition of about two words. It makes sense, because UTS was an awesomely easy book to write, for the most part. Revisions were light. We’d learned a lot from RTS, sure, but UTS wrote itself, in a way, from the beginning. Some books are like that.
But I’m guessing that some books are like that only because we’ve already written a few that nearly take us down.
So, as Larissa said, OMG – we’re learning!
And even on the hardest days, there’s no other job I’d rather be doing than writing.
Or, you know, rewriting. 😉