I have just completed another edit of a novel. The text has ample red pen sprawled all over it but I always see that as a good sign – every red mark means the writing is going to be better. With this particular novel I have had a five month break from the story… waiting that long helped me feel sufficiently distanced from the story so that I could really see all the pitfalls.
And it feels really good to whip it into better shape.
This is the same story that has had three major overhauls (this is when I think being a discovery writer really sucks… I’ll bet those chronic planners never have this many re-writes!), including a name change for two major characters and an alternate ending.
I don’t know why I expected this time round to be different… there is another, even bigger, overhaul I am considering…
It’s huge… and it will change the audience of the story.
Why am I even considering this? Well, for starters the manuscript has been rejected a couple of times. I can only make assumptions as to why – I’m thinking it’s partly my rubbish ability to write a query letter and perhaps the writing not yet being up to scratch. Whatever the reasons, I still believe in the story and I want to make it excellent.
Now that I’ve done this well-distanced-edit, I still feel as though something is lacking. I couldn’t put my finger on it. My son has read the book three times and is desperate for me to start on book two but he is nine and unfortunately the agents I submit to are a few decades older and wiser than he is. Regardless of how good the idea is, I knew something was ‘wrong’ with it.
And then it dawned on me. My lead character should actually be a girl. I can’t tell you the ridiculous implications of this idea (my son is horrified that I would cast a girl as the protagonist but hopefully he’ll thank me when it’s done) but when I think about it, I get that thrilling, goosebumps-up-my-spine feeling that it might just be great.
It will mean a few months of really hard work but I want the story to be its best.
As I wait for news about this and various shorter submissions, I begin to wonder if a writers’ life is made up of a lot of waiting. It’s hard to explain this to non-writers… why would you spend all that time working on a story that gets perpetually rejected? I can’t say why. I guess, if you care about a story enough, you want to keep at it until it can have an audience – you’ll keep reconstructing until someone wants to live in the building you’ve made.
Oh well… here’s to more steps forward (even if they’re the kind that only happen in my home office) in this writing life.