Catastrophe or Opportunity?

Yes, I know, I was all victory on my last post so this might come as a bit of a surprise to those reading this now, but I am trying to be honest here about my experience.

So, after typing the end, I tried mightily to ignore the manuscript other than backing up in a number of places, having conversations of congratulations with friends and family. I watched a couple of movies I’ve been the mood for in the last couple of very busy weeks and started outlining The Ailing Tree. I was going to leave Dark Mirror alone for a couple of weeks before I touched it or read it, I swore to myself. Um, yeah, that lasted until I woke up this morning feeling bereft from not having Dark Mirror to work on today. I know, I’m a strange one. You’re not the first to think it, everyone who knows me knows this. So I started reading the PDF on my iPad. I discovered something, and I’m not sure what to make of it (as shown in the title of this post). I knew, I said, that there would be some substantive rewriting required for at least the first half, and some minor ones probably for the second half. Reading the first dozen pages or so this morning and thinking about all that I remember writing in the last 33 days, I realized something. The whole thing needs to be rewritten. Em, don’t cry or scream at me, there is good reason.

You see, everyone, I realized this morning that there are rather large inconsistencies in the story. Worse, some of the things that happen don’t make any sense when taken only with what is in the book, as opposed to taking it with what I know I intended. Actually, some of it doesn’t even make sense to me regarding why people do the things they do. That is very very bad. It’s supposed to make sense. Motive should be clear to the reader, things should follow logically, though some of it doesn’t make complete sense until the end or can be misinterpreted before then. So I think this means the manuscript is, well, critically broken.

Now, I can look at this as catastrophe. But I don’t, not really. For one thing, I really do miss sitting down every day in anticipation of writing. Yes, it was blood, sweat, tears and broken brains for just over a month, but I miss it and felt alive and happy doing it. For another, it’s a learning experience, and one that stems from doing about two weeks of planning at best before jumping into page 1. I now know what I need to consider beforehand now. So draft 1 was more of a trial run (and a mess) that you will probably never see. I’m already working on it though, listing out what needs to change or be fixed. I may take it down to one viewpoint, instead of trying to do both, though that is far from sure right now. If I do that, I may actually switch this to first person, rather than leaving it as 3rd person limited, which it is right now. I have a tendency to try to get cute in 3rd limited and show things that the character isn’t actually aware of, and I get mad at myself when I catch me doing that. It’s a bit juvenile and unprofessional and I have to kick that habit.

So, as I write all this, and look at my notes, I’m leaning toward opportunity. And don’t worry, it won’t delay things much. I just did 107k in 33 days. With some time spent on just notes, I can do it again. My brain is in surprisingly fine working order (none of you can be as shocked by that as I am) and I view this as part of the process of learning to construct good, coherent stories. It’s teaching me things that are also being applied to my outlining work for The Ailing Tree. I need to ask why more often, of my character, the world and events that drive the story. If it takes completely rewriting Dark Mirror to get there, to learn that, it’s a small price to pay. It was only a month’s work, and it’ll still pay off. Even knowing I can get to the end is a precious thing that will help me get through to the end of a second draft.

So yeah, opportunity, definitely more opportunity than catastrophe, since I seem to be on the road to fixing it already, since I know how to fix it. Catastrophe would be me staring at it and wanting to delete it all for lack of ability to salvage anything. Actually, that sounds more like tragedy.

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About Julie

I'm a writer and photographer. I always have something with me to take notes for ideas or writing projects I'm thinking about or have on the go. I also like to go around with my camera and take pictures of anything that strikes me as beautiful or evocative. I'm perpetually working on one story or another, while waiting for enough distance to judge the last one (or more). I'm always working on several projects at once, developing the next book, even as I'm editing the last. Beyond that, there's always plenty of scraps and twists of ideas rolling around in my head, eventually turning themselves into full blown stories.
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4 Responses to Catastrophe or Opportunity?

  1. Mark Priddy says:

    I have to say: Reading this – your discovery, analysis and response – has me even more convinced than before. You’re doing it right.

    I’ve told my Little Writer that writing is only part of the job. It’s probably not even half. The bigger balance is editing. For now, she has yet to learn to take joy in editing. Being objectively critical about your own work is SO hard, but also a necessity.

    I’m glad you’re taking heart.

  2. Em says:

    This is exactly what is supposed to happen. You write a first draft and then you rewrite it. Sometimes several times. Some people call this editing, but when it is the major fix of a first draft, it is far more accurately called a rewrite. It was drilled into us at the conference that this is the next step on the writing journey should be expected by all authors at all times, no matter how established you are. This is not only an opportunity, but this is what you SHOULD be doing. If all you were doing was wording clean-up after burning through over 100K in 33 days I’d be blinking at you in shock.

    The only reason I’m going to yell at you is I’ll bet this means you’re not going to let me see the first draft, are you? 😛

  3. julietkachyk says:

    Thank you, very very much for the comments. I needed that. Words of wisdom which today are gifts of (relative) sanity. I’ve calmed down about it a lot, though you should have seen the panic attack that ensued AFTER I wrote that post. SJ managed to calm me down, and after sleeping on it, I’ve decided to keep firmly in mind the strategy that got me through writing those 107k words in the first place: one thing at a time, one step at a time, don’t get overwhelmed by the overly large picture. I feel better now, in spite of a day at work that had me on the verge of telling them where to shove my job. Note, I had no intention of using polite words to explain positioning to them.

  4. Celtic Forest Dweller says:

    Congratulations on finishing (107k! Wow!) and on all you’ve discovered! Those are big steps! You can do this 🙂 Good luck!

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