Monday, January 14, 2013

Fresh Start

A few years ago--November of 2006, to be exact; six years ago--I wrote my first novel. (And also my only novel.) So much has happened since and because of that month, and you can read about it all over my blog: discovering that I am a writer, right now; self-publishing said novel for personal use; adding a story line; rewriting and fretting over my little story; publishing some completely different, totally separate stories (which are still on sale!).

But all of that is not what this post is about. This post is about Draft Two. Or Three. Or something.

(And let me just say, Six years?!? Has it really been six years?!?)

I have known for a long time that my story is not complete. I still, after all this time, do not have a title that I like. (Seriously, folks, A Fairy Tale (With No Fairies) is just not cutting it.) I never did finish writing the story line of the bad guy. I want more action, more intrigue, more character development. I want less silliness and more cleverness; less rambling and more sophistication. I want something much more complete.

And this is fair, and good, and right. What I have, after all, is a *very rough* first draft.

But every time I have begun work on revisions for the story, I run into this paralyzing inertia. I've been sending myself story notes in emails for years (because where else should I store all these random notes?). I have notes and notes and notes, I just don't know how to work them in. There are several very big plot points that I have not yet resolved in my own mind, so how do I write them? And then when I read the story, I am overwhelmed and do not know where to start making changes. I get heart palpitations at the prospect of deleting this entire page/section/chapter and you've never encountered writer's block this intense and, oh good grief, just burn the whole thing.

Not conducive to completing the project.

But a month or so ago, my NaNoWriMo writing buddy and lifelong friend, Angie, sent me a link to this blog post. The author writes about how she wrote her bestselling novel, Bitterblue (really? This is the book? I didn't realize THAT was the book she was talking about! My girls are reading this series!). She had this big, lumbering first draft, and her editor gently suggested that she consider starting all over. You need to read the post to get the full gist, but as I was reading, something clicked.

Because this is what I had been considering for a while, that I should set aside the first draft and just start over. Retain the plot and the main characters, of course, but ditch much of what I had written. Some of it is great, and I can pull it in when needed. I am NOT deleting anything permanently, mind you. At this point I have at least 3 drafts/versions of the story saved because I am so unwilling to delete anything. But the substantial revisions and changes that the story needs--and that I need in order to finish writing it--demand a fresh start, not a continued spinning of my editing wheels.

So as part of my year of discipline, I am revisiting Fairy Tale. I have committed to some specific time that I will spend reading through the most recent draft, just as a means of refreshing my memory. It's been a long time since I've lived in that world, and I need to get comfortable there again. And during this re-read, I'm not going to look for what needs to be changed or improved or trashed. I'm just going to pay attention to the good, to the jewels worth keeping. And then, I'm going to write, starting fresh.

So thanks, Angie & Kristin Cashore, for showing me that I'm not crazy. Thanks for giving me the courage to tackle this beast anew.

Wish me luck.


Angela said...

All the credit should go to Cashore and author extraordinaire Skyla Dawn Cameron who shared it on Facebook.

I actually bought Graceling after reading Cashore's post, and it's a great book. I'm looking forward to getting to Bitterblue soon.

But I'm so excited that it inspired you to start fresh with Fairy Tale. I love the parts of the story that I know. I know it will be a great novel one day (hopefully soon).

Karin Kaufman said...

I'm so excited that you're working on this again! From my own experience, totally dumping something after a few years, and after learning so much, is very beneficial. BUT...you don't really have to dump it. I like what Anne Rice says about this--save everything, but if it's not working, start afresh. I wrote two and a half books before the one I self-published. It killed me to do it at the time, but boy, was it the right idea. Still, I took bits and pieces of those books and inserted it into the published book, and to this day, I save those books on computer for future ideas/use. I can't wait to read this book! The time is right!

Karin Kaufman said...

When I said it killed me to do it at the time, I meant, it killed me to dump the books and begin again. :-)

Amy said...

Thanks, Angie and Karin. The two of you are my biggest cheerleaders when it comes to writing.