Well, last night and the night before I did something I haven’t done in a long, long time.
I opened my WIP manuscript and did some editing.
It’s amazing. It’s been about 18 months since I even looked at the stupid thing. I realized several months ago it’s going to need major revisions, but I lacked the energy to aggressively attack those issues, so I let it languish a while longer. (Here’s an interesting phenomenon: When I go to write or edit anything – anything at all – I get sleepy. Any other writers experience this or similar?) Well, I got tired of looking at it there on my desktop, mocking me. So I opened it and started … well, editing.
I’ve called this my second draft, but you know what? It’s really still my first. I had no idea what the heck I was doing when I wrote this thing in the first place. I had no idea what story structure looked like, what things should go where. I was armed with the maxim Omit Needless Words and I interpreted “needless” as “adverbs ending in –ly” so I set out to destroy them. Now I read through the prose and it feels like I’m looking at someone else’s work. Someone else who’s a two-bit hack who has no business trying to be published.
I look back on the evolution of this thing and realize how many mistakes I made along the way. I wrote it as a serial for my deviantART page and the readers I’d acquired there (all but gone now, since I’ve been SOOOO inactive for SOOOO long). So the books isn’t really divided into the logical scenes it might’ve been had I planned it as … well, as a novel instead of as a serial. In fact, I never intended for this to be a story at all. My wife basically hounded (read: nagged) me into keeping it going because she really thought it was something special. I guess time will show but what started as a writing exercise finally grew into a complete, if not well-written, story of its own.
Now, I have to fix it, and the more I learn about the craft of writing, the more I realize it’s broken. It has plot holes, research issues, prose problems, and is completely devoid of –ly adverbs outside of dialog (which I don’t intend to change, btw). But the basis for the idea is there, and I wonder if it’s worth the effort required or if I should just abandon it and start something new.
It has its fans. My buddy Raga, for one. I met her because she found my blog through Bryce’s site and fell in love with one of my characters. She read the story from start to finish and came out of hiding when I called my lurkers out. She is my greatest non-spousal fan and biggest non-spousal supporter and I’m eternally grateful for her. (She’s a fantastic, loyal and loving friend, too, if I’ve never said it before.) Because of her, and people like her, I don’t know if I can just give up on my poor, battered, deformed, miscreant little manuscript. I don’t know at what point I should move on. Or rewrite the damn thing (which isn’t an exciting idea, at all). Or forget it, leave it as it, compile it into a PDF for those who are interested and let it be finished. Move to a new project.
*Sigh* Many decisions, few brains. What to do?
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