Originally published at Cassie Alexander. You can comment here or there.
Re-read and made changes on 50 pgs out of 141 (which due to the way I format things = 80 k, the entirety of the book I have so far.) It went better than I thought it would, I thought I'd have to start heavy rewrites by pg 20, but it appears I didn't lose my way until right there on pg 51. Those first 50 pgs, I think I could stomach sending to my editor -- not saying they're perfect, but they flow right.
What follows is everything I need to fix, though. I'm meeting with my alpha reader tomorrow in person, which'll be great. Our phone convo last week helped me to figure some things out, but talking in person and bouncing ideas off of one another will be grand. He was worried I didn't realize how broken this book is, and was quite relieved to discover that we think the same things were wrong about it. He was afraid he was going to have to explain to me why it wasn't working, heh. I'm glad we're both on the same page.
I can remember there was a time, much earlier in my life, when I was rabidly attached to my text. Rewriting is a hard skill to learn, and so rough to practice, no wonder every author wants to believe they're perfect, right out of the gate. (And maybe some of you are. If so, I don't want to hear about it :P.) But I've come to appreciate rewrites (god knows it helps when people promise to pay you for them) and realize there's a hundred different ways to get to different points. There's this Annie Dillard quote that is perhaps the oldest in my quotes file --
"One of the things I know about writing is this: spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time. Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book or for another book; give it, give it all, give it now. The impulse to save something good for a better place later is the signal to spend it now. Something more will arise for later, something better."
Goodness keeps rising up. You aren't going to ruin your perfect scene -- there's another perfect scene just waiting to take its place. In fact, there are thousands of them, waiting to be tapped into, even better than the one before.
There's the converse of this, of course, the endlessly rewritten books you sometimes see in writers groups. That one poor person, digging themselves into an ever deepening well. What I think happens to those people is that they keep rewriting to speak to the person they are now, and as that person is ever changing, their book will never be complete. Part of the art of being an author is figuring out when to say when.
Anyhow -- I'm sure tomorrow will be illuminating. And then we'll see how the next round of rewrites goes.