Sunday, March 13, 2011

revision woes

Rewriting always makes me a little sad.

Now, understand when I say "rewriting," I don't mean "rewriting small sections of text," I mean "rewriting entire drafts." Why, you may ask? Well, I guess the easy answer is twofold: I am both stubborn and lazy. I'll start writing a draft and I'll be convinced it's working. I'll have plans, and the draft will, more or less, follow those plans. And I'll get to the end of the draft and I'll feel very accomplished for having finished something. And then I'll start rereading. And then the pain begins.

I'll think, Really, I thought this was a good idea?

And I'll finally see all the shortcomings my idea had to begin with. Now, I'm not saying that my idea was completely worthless or anything--far from it. Instead, I'll see that I didn't execute the idea to the best of my ability.

Thus the rewrite.

Take, for example, a story I started back in high school. (High school! I've now been teaching high school longer than I ever attended it.) This particular story, which never did have a name, ended up being 87,000+ words long (and I never did "end" the thing). I realize now that, while the basic premise was good, the execution was lacking. It sounds like a high school kid wrote it because, well, one did. So, within the last year or two, I decided to completely overhaul this book. I've kept the same characters and many of the same plot points, but I've changed a great many things, too. I'm now in the rewriting phase.  As of today, I'm at 22,400 words. It's a little sad; the book now is only a quarter as long as the original draft had been. And it's not even like I can cannibalize parts of the original draft: This is, in essence, a completely new book.

Now, if this were an isolated incident, it might not be so depressing. Alas. I have two more "first drafts" that are suffering through the same fate.

I know that the books will be better for the extra work, but it's disheartening. I'd like to think that I could write a really good first draft--one that, sure, would need a few edits, but that would be pretty much what I wanted it to be.

I guess I'm not being entirely fair to myself. The book I referenced above and one of the others are works I wrote in high school. And while, yes, I'd like to think that I had some talent as a high schooler, I'm also woman enough to admit that I wouldn't really like for anyone else to read these works.

So, I suppose what I really need now is the followthrough required to rewrite. Because, let's face it, in the long run, it'll be worth it.

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