There I was, sitting on my first draft, and on three months’ worth of notes – sticky or otherwise – and more than a little stuck with a sense of neither being ready nor knowing too well what to do next…
Well, actually, next I began by gathering all my notes and going through them with some consistency – because it seemed like a good idea – and this proved… interesting.
On the one hand, I put together a few reasoned lists of changes to be made – and this was good. On the other hand, perhaps it was a mistake to go back to the notes from very early days, when I was trying to sort out narrative modes… I found myself grappling with the same dilemmas again, and questioning just about every choice I’d made. It wasn’t exactly cheerful work…
Until someone told me to stop it, and start rewriting already.
After the first shock of the But-But-But-I-Can’t-Possibly… variety, the idea began to show some serious appeal. After all, I’m writing this on spec: I can’t say I have real deadlines, so who cares if I go through one more draft? At least I’ll be doing something, and perhaps some of the floating pieces on the sticky notes will fall into place… Not to mention that it anything will be hugely better than slipping into a procrastination fit.
I began, I printed my To Do Lists and Scene List, set up a word-count bar, created a new Scrivener file… and spent the first day staring at my first scene on the screen.
Do I really want this framing device? Do I really need it to begin like this? Do I really like the voice here?
Then I decided that the framing device could wait, moved on, and spent the second day trying to not line-edit – which, at this stage, would be about the stupidest thing to do. You can imagine that, after two days of this, I wasn’t in my brightest mood…
And then, yesterday, as I made myself yet another cup of tea, something about the third scene shifted in my head. A smallish shift that looks good, makes a good deal of sense, requires an entirely new (and promising) fourth scene and provides new and better action for the now fifth one…
While we were at it, another possibility or two fell in place – and that was it for the moment, but it was great. I’m still working on yesterday’s tea-induced changes. It works. It feels gloriously like shaking something into shape.
Whether it will keep working, whether I’ll gain momentum or not, I can’t say yet – but for now let me hope I’ve found my second-draft legs.
Jack Shalom said:
Courage! I can only keep myself going through revisions by looking at previous drafts and having the ocular proof that my revised versions are getting better each time, despite my hesitations.
But it’s scary. There’s always, “What if I screw it up completely and I can’t find my way back?”
la Clarina said:
Yes – that’s a problem, too…
I keep taking snapshots (Scrivener lets you do that – basically you save separate versions), and tell myself I can always go back, should I have second thoughts… I seldom do it – if at all – but it is a consolation when taking the plunge. 🙂