I began my summer vacation last weekend. Yes, I know, you all realize that I’m a teacher and have been on break since the end of June, so what gives?
Since June 16th, when my agent sent me an email tearing my Work In Progress to pieces, I’ve been mulling over the remains, trying to figure out how to repair my story. My conclusion: Rewrite the entire thing.
This is not typical for me. Yes, a first draft is just that, a draft, something that will inherently be rewritten. But pieces of it, or strands of the story. Large segments, yes, but not close to 300 pages’ worth.
Because that’s what happened. In the end, I saved maybe five scenes from the original draft.
Prior to that, I analyzed the story like I was back in college. I created over 30 pages of notes on character motivation, plot structure, theme, and on and on. I researched aspects of the story that needed more detail, and once that was all in place, then I got to work.
Around the end of June, with the expanse of summer fully before me, I closed myself off in my office and wrote, on average, for five hours a day. All brand new material. That may not seem like a lot of work, but creating something out of nothing for five hours is exhausting. Doing so for a month, with characters and a plot that you already tried out once and failed with, is a testament to the endurance necessary for this line of work.
I’m happy about the experience. One, because I had the time to work. Two, because I had to go back and rethink a lot of what I know as a writer. Three, because the story is so much better than the original. Here’s a direct quote from the email I sent to my agent regarding this version: “The story’s disturbing, but it also feels very vulnerable and emotional. I put my heart on my sleeve with this one.”
It is disturbing, in ways I have yet to write (which may shock those of you who have read all my work). But most importantly, it is all of the latter from that quote. I have put myself so far out there with this story that I am terrified of the reaction. Which is exactly where I need to be. If I want to live up to my “fearless” moniker, then I’d better “walk the walk.”
Or more aptly, write the story.
I’ll know if I’ve succeeded at some point. But part of me already knows I have.
Keep enjoying your summer. I’m preparing events for Press Play and will have a schedule soon. Additionally, if you’d like to pre-order for friends and family who are not in the area, please order direct from Running Press, use Indiebound or Barnes and Noble.