There’s something tragic and yet exhilarating about hitting delete on 120K words.
The novel doesn’t work—at least not in how I wrote it.
I tried to escape this fact. I went through, re-read, re-re-re-read, patched, edited, patched…on and on.
But if I was honest, it didn’t work.
My structure was wrong, my characters weren’t compelling—weren’t very relatable.
I decided to tell a few friends. “I’m sure it’s not that bad” “Just sit on it for a while.” “Publish it anyway.”
I have sat on it for a while. I took a break from it a few months ago, then started back up on it a few weeks back. I intended on doing what my friends eventually suggested: justify it, wait and publish anyway.
But after taking the break, my editor hat was fully on. Anyone out there who writes and edits knows how different those roles have to be. Writing is the art of addition; editing is the art of subtraction. I wrote about it (here) and I still believe it. It was something my journalism students always had a difficult time grasping, but when you can honestly put on either hat, things come into focus.
The novel doesn’t work.
So what’s next? On to other literary adventures? New story? Try to rewrite this one?
Sort of all of the above. The premise is solid. When I tell people about the idea of the book, people love it, so I don’t want to lose that (in fact it’s why several friends encourage me to publish anyway). However, my explanation of the theme is more compelling than the current manifestation of that theme within the book. That’s the problem.
So, I’m not only going to rewrite, but I’m going to restructure, reimagine…all sorts of stuff. It will be a story along the same parameters.
And it’s exciting, in a strange “let’s knock over the tower of blocks” sort of way. I thought I might be more mournful of the old manuscript, but I’m not—not really. I would like this damned thing to be written and out of my head, but my enthusiasm for the project continues.
I just need to make sure I don’t turn this into a form of self-sabotage—deciding to throw away everything at the last second for fear of actually putting something out there and being exposed.
Because this time isn’t that…at least I don’t think it is.