The Dreaded Rewrite: Challenge Accepted

dread

Writing is fun. At least, for me it is. I first started trying to write stories when I was 3 years old. Granted, my “writing” consisted of a bunch of illegible squiggly lines accompanied by pictures of disfigured people, flowers, horses, and mosquito larvae (don’t ask), but I tried. Occasionally I would get my mom to write the words under the pictures. That helped a little bit.

By the time I was 8 or 9, I had moved to typing stories on my grandmother’s computer. My friends and family still talk about some of those old stories, particularly about the one with a bunch of kids living in a tree. (Sound familiar to anyone?) The “chapters” were only about a paragraph, and little if any of it was believable.

When I was 12 I wrote my first complete story, a 32-page “book” about wild horses and evil wolves called Romanzarnon and the Defeat of Jawmandarna. To this day I have no idea where those names came from.

I continued to write fairly prolifically on into high school. I tried my hand at fan fiction (which, by the way, was an utter fail as the fan fiction I was writing was about a TV show I had never actually seen), and I had stacks, binders, notebooks, and computer files overflowing with half-done stories. I was so prolific with my writing, in fact, that when a group of people came to inspect our school, my teacher told them that while she had trouble getting the other students to write a paragraph, she couldn’t get me to stop writing.

When I was 14 or 15, I started work on my first actual book, a 70-some-odd-page kids’ book called Random. It was cute enough, and I enjoyed listening to my cousin read it aloud whenever she, her little sister, my little brother, and I all rode home from school together. I had, by that point, only barely discovered self-publishing, and I was very excited to try my hand at it. Using Microsoft Works (the only writing program I had at that time), I typed the story up and began trying to make it look like a book.

At the same time I was doing that (I was 15 or 16 by this point), I had also begun work on The Four Stars, the first book in my Star Trilogy. This would later be followed by The Secret of Erris, Rebirth, and Ancient Vengeance later on down the line.

The Four Stars first draft
The Four Stars first draft

Some time around the beginning of last year, I asked my mentor if he would read The Star Trilogy and give me feedback. You have to realize, at this point my trilogy was, to me at least, my crowning achievement. So you can imagine how I felt when my mentor returned the book to me with a 2-page list of pros and cons, (one paragraph pros, 1 3/4 pages cons), and he hadn’t even finished reading. Needless to say, I was very disappointed. I set the book aside and did little more than mope for the next several days. I eventually overcame my little depression and continued writing my stories, but in all honesty I have avoided The Star Trilogy like a disease ever since.

Well, I should say that I used to avoid it. Recently, I’ve had quite a few people ask me about my books, and I always feel bad when I have to tell them that there are none currently available, because the truth of the matter is that it is entirely my fault. I hate rewrites; in fact, I dread them.

There is nothing more painful to me as a writer than to become so intimate with my creation, only to have to tear it apart and try to reassemble it. Perhaps it’s because I have so much ego invested in it. Perhaps it’s that I’m afraid I’ll make it worse if I mess with it. I don’t know. What I do know is that the last thing I want to do is rewrite my book.

rewrite

There is definitely a plus to publishing the traditional way. As a self-publishing author, I have to worry about book design, cover art and design, editing, marketing, and everything in between. Furthermore, I want to know that my writing is good, and I can’t say I have a lot of friends who are good in the criticism department. That’s one thing I appreciate about my mentor. It was painful to know that my books were so bad he couldn’t finish reading them. But on the flip side, it gave me incentive to try again.

And so last Saturday I picked up a pen and notebook and began drafting a new prologue for The Four Stars. As of last night, I am up to about 2,000 words total for this new edition, and already I can see the improvement. The story may never be perfect. I get that. But I have learned so much since I first began writing it. (How long has it been? 5…6 years maybe?).

I must say, it hasn’t taken me long to get back into writing my trilogy. Though hard at first, I soon discovered that rewriting was not so much messing up the story as it was like getting to know a friend. I started out knowing almost nothing about my characters and their world. Four books later, I know so much more than I did back then, and not just about writing. I know the characters, and rewriting gives me the opportunity to breathe new life into the old stories, making the characters just as real and intimate to my readers as they are to me.

I’ve still got a ways to go, as I am working out kinks and expanding the stories. So I will just leave it at this for now: The dreaded rewrite? Hah! Challenge accepted!

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4 thoughts on “The Dreaded Rewrite: Challenge Accepted

  1. Yes, rewrites are tough going. I hate them too. (Can you imagine that some people say it’s their favorite part of the writing process? I hate those people too.) But rewrites are very necessary. I look forward to having the rewrite done on my own trilogy; I dread having to do it.

  2. I love this post! I am so proud of you for persevering and deciding to sit down and start rewriting the Star Trilogy! I am so excited to what you have in store for the story and I love how passionate you are about your writing and I love when you share it with me! I hope to hear very much how its going!!! Good luck! I cheering for you!

  3. Reblogged this on roughwritersonline and commented:

    First and foremost, as the new president of Rough Writers, I want to apologize for an unnecessarily large lack of activity on the blog. With so many things going on this year and with an almost entirely new group of people, the blog has sadly fallen by the wayside. As such, I have decided to reblog a post from my primary blog, Gilleland Creations. Hope you enjoy!

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