The ! is because I have actually found time to work on the rewrite! It is slow going now that I’m in school, but I was worried I’d lose motivation altogether. Not happening.
What has actually happened is that whenever I get stressed out from school, I use my rewrite to blow off my homework… er, I mean blow off some steam. It has become a kind of therapy for me, something comforting that is always there if I need comfort. When writing for my writing class makes me want to scream, rewriting my story calms me down.
In August I finished rewriting part 1 and got stuck for a little while, thinking that part 1 was the main problem and parts 2 and 3 just needed to be edited. I struggled for a few weeks with how much to change and couldn’t get past the first chapter of part 3 (I should probably mention here that parts 2 and 3 alternate chapters, so I am working on both at the same time. They are named parts 2 and 3 because they used to be in large chunks rather than alternating chapters. I should probably just stop calling them parts 2 and 3).
Finally, I decided to skim through the material formerly known as parts 2 and 3 to see what my overall impression was.
My overall impression? They sucked compared to my rewrite of part 1.
I gave in to the fact that I’m going to have to fully rewrite the entire thing, all 685 pages, before I can even dream of finishing it. After I realized that, it got easier to keep going with parts 2 and 3.
I’ve been taking an advanced writing class which has helped me with my story, because it encourages me to cut down on wordiness, redundancies, and filler. Obviously not an exercise I’m applying to my blog, but it IS helping with the fiction. I think my writing is getting better.
As part of the class I read an article by Anne Lamott that is all about bad first drafts (the actual name of the article is a little more colorful.) That reading made me feel better about how bad the first version of my story is. Cuz it should be! It’s the first version.
Then I read an article by Donald Murray about the writing process, which made me feel even better, because after reading it I felt less crazy for deciding to rip apart and fully rewrite a 685 page document, a process which might end up taking a full year itself. Now I know that it’s normal, and that once I’m done with that I’ll have to edit the rewrite, edit it again, possibly rewrite some of it again, edit it some more, and then edit it indefinitely until someone steps in and forces me to stop. It’s normal!
I may have mentioned in an earlier post that school is kicking my butt, that I’ve never felt so crappy about anything in all my life, that I’ve thought about quitting more often than I’ve thought about continuing, and that sometimes all I want is a week or two or eight OFF from school so I can just work on my story and not think about anything else. If I didn’t mention that before, there it is.
However, if I look on the bright side, I can see that I really am learning new, valuable things in school. I’m learning to be a better reader and writer, learning about science when I thought my brain couldn’t handle it, and learning especially that just because I think I want something, doesn’t actually mean I want it.
Mostly, I’m excited that I’m becoming a better writer. If school can help me with that, I should just quit complaining and enjoy it. And celebrate getting to page 227 in my rewrite. I’m almost a third of the way there!