Thursday, January 10, 2013

Birth of a novel, or Why Rewriting Sucks



Today is another installment of Birth of a Novel. If you haven't heard of this, hop on over to Charity's Blog, and sign up on the linky. 

I try not to talk about my troubles, but let’s face it, I’m TMI waiting to happen. So when I found myself full of free time I thought, “Oh hey, I’ll crank out the rest of this novel in like a week.” That was pretty much three weeks ago now. Yeah. That’s not really going the way I’d planned.

At first I thought, Oh, this is just the usual writer anxiety, it comes and it goes. In the mean time, I’ll just watch Dance Academy (a surprisingly good Australian Ballet drama). And when I’d plowed through those, I thought, “Oh, well, I’m just redefining myself as a person rather than a job.” That’s when I started watching Glee.

And still, no writing. I blogged. I talked with people, I cleaned house, anything to not write. What was killing my words?

Then it hit me, I was avoiding my novel.

Writing a novel is full of ups and downs. The ups sound like “Oh my galena, this is the greatest story, and I wish I could ship it off to agents Right NOW so it can hit the New York Times bestseller list sooner.” The downs: “Well, that was a complete waste of time. I wonder if I should even finish drafting it. I mean really, who’s ever going to pay money for this trite POS?”

But when you’re rewriting, it’s worse. With a rewrite, there are no really big surprises, you’ve already done that. You’ve already been there. You’ve already explored all the original (well, original to you) points that made you think you had the novel of pure awesome. In a rewrite, you see that not only has it been done before (by you) it’s been done before by like fifty other people over the last ten years. Yikes. It seems old, worn out, and you start to doubt.

Why am I even rewriting this novel? It wasn’t that good to begin with, and now that I’m rewriting, I know that it sucks. I’ve had vacuums with less suction than this novel.

And it’s not nearly as exciting because you’ve already done it.

So I started writing again. I gave myself permission to suck, because even though this is a rewrite, so much has changed that it’s back to a first draft. And first drafts suck. Sure this first draft might be a little more focused, you know, with the whole actually knowing the plot and the point of view (both aspects I’d screwed up the first time).

Now if I can just keep that Shiny New Idea at bay and finish...

So what about you, do you hate rewriting as much as I do? Or do you view rewriting as an opportunity to sweep all those mistakes under the revision rug?


Goals:
* Finish the rewrite of PRINCESS SINGULARITY by next week (this should be less than 10,000 words, so this shouldn’t be a problem).
* Make a decision about revising the super hero novel
* Draw more maps for the Shiny New Idea, more on that one later

21 comments:

  1. I hate it so much that I can't even begin to rewrite... which is why I've listed SHOWING my work to someone as one of my goals for this year. It'll force me to do the rewrite.

    This made me tee-hee: "I’ve had vacuums with less suction than this novel."

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    1. Ah, I'm sure you can make it up to showing people your work. It's hard, and it takes a ton of courage, but you can do it.

      (admittedly, I've had vacuum cleaners that weren't very good in the past... and I've had one that sucked up a sock before exploding in flames).

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  2. I love rewriting - but I don't think I ever get the whole story down on the page until about version 4, so it's not so much rewriting as just writing!

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    1. Ah see, that's a different way of thinking about it. This story had so many ideas that went along with it, that I wasn't able to get them all out there the first time. Now, however, it's like pulling nails because I already know where the story goes, and that's one of the most interesting parts for me.

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  3. I love the idea of the rewrite until half way through, when it starts to suck as much as the original draft. Then I get the urge to start over again...

    But hang in there. PS does NOT suck! You can do it!

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    1. Yes, the first half is so wonderful and lovely and full of butterflies and rainbows.

      The second half is littered with pustules and tar pits.

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  4. I think I'm with Elizabeth on this one. I love the idea, and I like doing it for awhile, but then it starts to get so hard!
    Good luck! You can do it and make it shine! :)

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    1. Yes, the dreaded sucking period. I know it well. But I also know I'll enjoy things better if I just power through a bit longer.

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  5. Oh I'm all for "sucking" on the rough draft. I fly through my roughs so quickly that they're bound to need LOADS of work!

    Right now I'm in a bit of a writing funk. I haven't written a lick of it in weeks. I think we as writers just get that way sometimes. You'll plow through it :)

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    1. You know, I used to do a ton of rewriting and revising as I wrote, but then I did NaNo this year, and it was so wonderful! even with all that rewriting and editing, all my drafts still need major overhauls, so why not just get the first run down?

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  6. I'm usually so OCD about my drafts as I draft them, I almost never have to do a major rewrite. Sure, I do editing along the way, in the middle, and at the end, and it may take a little longer to write than others do, but I find it saves more time in the long run. :)

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    1. Yeah, I totally wish I had your discipline, but this particular project was the first "Real" attempt at writing a novel that could ever be published. I decided that I needed to change the POV and change the whole plot, but yeah, first tries and all that.

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  7. I know what you're saying. I think it all just becomes extremely overwhelming. Getting that book polished up isn't easy like dusting...it can be stinky work like getting an onion ready for a salad. There's the first layer of trash, then you have to slice the good parts, while trying not to cut yourself with the knife as you work through the tears.
    And the whole time the little voice never does go away that's whispering "you suck". I wish I could pull the plug on it, but I think it has a battery too.

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    1. You know, I think I'll definitely make a post about that stupid whispering voice. It's taken me years and years to figure it out, but I finally know all about what to say about and to that voice.

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  8. ugh! rewriting does suck!
    its not like editing, its like the first draft was all back story and the rewrite is an alternate universe!
    and i can see being distracted by shiny new ideas, like a kid trying to invent a new game from an old toy, rather just get a new one!

    stick with it! its a worthy story!

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    1. YES! it is like the first draft was an alternate universe, you know, the one with a lower budget and wasn't picked up by fox (only so they could cancel it after running all the episodes out of order... Can you tell I'm a Brown Coat?). I am sticking with it, and it literally is the last gasp for this rewrite.

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  9. I love reading your blog, Rena! But I get sucked in to all the wonderful posts and forget to comment because I'm constantly clicking on the next one!

    As for me, I love to revise and rewrite. It's drafting that's a challenge for me, or at least, that's been the case for me as of late. And I, too, get the shiny new ideas dancing in my peripheral. Doesn't help things.

    Hang in there! Your novel is worth it!

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    1. Thanks Daisy. I'm glad to hear that you like my posts. I know how daunting commenting can be. I always feel like I sound completely inane when I comment on people's blogs. And oh man, when those shiny new ideas hit, they hit like lightning and I'm worried I'll forget them if I don't start in on them... But that's what notes are for.

      Now I'm off to pound out the last three chapters (yes, I'm literally that close).

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  10. Nope. I actually love the process, because when I rewrite, I can lose myself in writerly abandon without the pain of getting stuck.

    Also, it's a good thing I do, because I draft by hand, so I ALWAYS have to rewrite.

    :-D

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    1. Oh my god, writing by hand?? I can't even imagine. I know a lot of people who do, but I have literally never, not once, not ever, written a novel length anything by hand. In fact the reason that I wrote my first novel was because my mother had bought a word processing type writer. It had five lines so I typed the novel five lines at a time. Now I type as fast as most people talk (I should totally become a stenographer) so it's just faster for me to type. I am in awe of the hand written.

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  11. I love rewriting as I get to add in all the bits I forgot and crucify characters who have changed into evil beasts during the original draft.

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I love comments! Let me know what's on your mind.