Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Rewriting the Rewrite

Apologies to our few, steadfast and dear imaginary readers for the late Tuesday post. If you haven't heard, we're having a hurricane! It's official. Hurricane Isaac is on the way... and Mississippi and Louisiana are in his way. Needless to say, the Peas have been a little distracted with storm preparation and giggling at the repercussions of The Weather Channel's reference to our state as a land mass. Ah... the entertainments provided by the clash between social media and the national media. It's endless. But enough on that. Let's get to my actual blog topic today. Rewriting.

Every writer knows writing means rewriting.
(At least any writer worth their salt.)

And every rewriter knows that there's always a chance of another rewrite. Often times multiple rewrites. In some cases, years of rewrites. That is where I'm at right now with my own manuscript. Rewriting the rewrite. For me, its a daunting frustrating experience. Even when I fully understand and accept the necessity of it.

To catch ya'll up...

I've been on the cusp of completing a manuscript for about a year. I've long since written the last page. I've pitched it at ITW's Agentfest with great response. I've queried it with no response. I've had full manuscript requests for it from agents and even an editor. But I've never finished it and sent it out in earnest. Because I know it's not ready. Not ready enough to stand on it's own two feet and exist as a thing of true publishing potential.

It's my first finished book.

I'm not that good a writer yet.

This summer I let out my little creation to some non-biased readers. An old mentor, a friend who happens to be an agent, several renown instructors at a writing conference, and even a beta reader or two of known published authors. The feedback was staggering. And quite confusing. I've gotten everything from "send this to my office immediately" to "I'm sorry, you don't have any business sending this out."

What's an insecure upstart writer to do?


It's all I can do.

At least if I want to ensure that I've written the very best book I possibly can. And why wouldn't I? With so much competition in a rapidly changing publishing landscape, I have to write the very best book I can if I want to have a hope of publishing success. Which, for me, means picking my book up off a bookstore shelf and knowing it's reaching as many people as it can. Why else would you write a book and publish it?

That said, I have to stay true to the story I'm trying to tell. And let me tell you...
Everyone has an opinion on how you should write your book, how you should change it, what will make it better, more sellable, more likable, just.... more.

As a writer you have to learn to filter through all that. Which is the hard part. Anyone can sit down and rewrite a book -- transfer changes to the page and hit save. But it takes a real writer to make the right choices which actually enables that book to take flight.

That's where I'm at.

Daunted, overwhelmed, and terrified I will make the wrong choices and may nudge my manuscript off kilter and send it careening off course where it it crashes and becomes a fiery pile of horse manure, ending my nonexistent writing career before it starts. So what do I have to do to save it?

Cut the cast of characters in half.
Make the protagonist likable.
Show the reader who to root for.
Create a more commercial conflict.
Narrow the focus.
Widen the social/cultural conflict and commentary.

And...well... there's a laundry list of suggestions from a multitude of critics I have to consider. Now whether I consider and toss away or consider and apply...that's the real test isn't it? Will I make the right choices to attract the largest audience I can? No one knows -- least of all me. All I can do is rewrite the best rewrite I can and put it out into the world again until either someone else or myself decides... yup, it's ready.

In the end, I'm the only person who can decide when it's done because it will never be finished. I know I can write a better book and I will try my damnedest to do so. Then when I'm happy enough to close the laptop on this bugger, I'll send it out and move on. Until then, I'll be right here, rewriting.

Because writing is rewriting. Every author worth their salt will tell you so.

Stay safe world in the path of Isaac. The winds are picking up here and the rain is starting. I'm going to shut this down and post before the storm lands. Peas be with you, always.

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