I've talked a lot about my novel. My novel, this. I'm writing a novel. Blah blah blah book. Looking back at the evolution of how I've talked about writing my novel over the past year and a half is an evolution in itself. Oh what little I knew, and how I stomped into that battle woefully unprepared, like a soldier in her underwear.
After hearing the feedback from my first readers, I am taking on the Herculean task of rewriting all 440 pages. When I re-read the 2nd Draft over with their comments in mind, it was with a certain glee that I slashed big black X's through scenes with my ballpoint pen. And I grinned like a Morticia Addams every time I read dialog from a character who didn't make it to the 3rd Draft. My readers' feedback was immeasurably helpful, and that read-through I did was like the gleeful tearing apart of Cinderella's dress.
But then came the work.
Oh sure, it's really easy to say how I'm going to rewrite every single page. And I needed to, the writing quality needed to be consistent from Page 1 to The End. So did the narrative voice. And there needed to be some other major changes, which I've mentioned before. So yeah, it's really easy to tell everyone how I'm doing this, and see how impressed they look. And then, as a bonus, tell me how impressed they are, just to back up the "You've got to be fucking crazy" look on their face.
But it's a lot harder to think it. Especially when I sit down at my computer, open up my word processor, and look at that blinking cursor. The scene's already written! I can see those thousands of words counted out right there in front of me, neatly separated by spaces and punctuation marks. It gets even worse when it's a brand new scene and I look at my outline which goes something like:
BLAH BLAH BLAH WRITE SOMETHING ABOUT THE VILLAIN'S EVIL PLAN THROUGH EXPOSITION AND DIALOG TO KEEP THE READER IN THE LOOP. REMEMBER VONNEGUT. NO JAMES BOND VILLAIN MONOLOGUING. DON'T MAKE IT SUCK.
Yeah, real helpful, Jordan. You're an Ace.
But the thing is, I am doing it. When I sit down and stare at that blinking cursor and all the chapters and scenes I have yet to do, I take a deep breath and just go. I read the Before Scene and then rewrite it. All while the comments of my first readers sit on my shoulders, crowded together, chanting their advice over and over to the sounds of Faith & The Muse.
And every time I think, "No. I can't do this," I take one of the scenes I've rewritten, spot edited, and is in that 3rd Draft Bag, and compare it to what it was. And you know what, the 3rd Draft is better. Not by a little bit, but by a lotta bit. The writing quality is improved, the dialog is snappier, the characters more realized, and it's finally going where I want the story to go. The characters and subplots that got the axe deserved it. The ones that stepped in to replace them are better, more believable, and evoke an emotional response.
And I can say this because I am really thinking critically about my work and am not biased. (Lie)
I don't think of rewriting as a daily slog of having to rehash over 100,000 words. I think of it as Progress. I think of it as being closer to realizing my greatest dream my way, not anyone else's way. All with the help of really great friends who read some terribly written stuff who really nailed it with their commentary.
When this book gets sent off to Agents, I want it to wow me. I want to read it over that last time before I start the Query process and think, "I wrote that? Yeah! I wrote that!" Which I know I can do, that's happened before. I am sure that's every writer's goal, but that goal takes a crapton of work, a lot of help, and a really good attitude from you, the writer.
No matter how this novel gets published and read by other people, I want to know I didn't cut corners, that I put in 100% every single time I could, and that I never gave up. I never thought it was too hard, that I couldn't do it, that it was impossible. Those words didn't cross my mind when I was a DJ with high ratings, when I was a social worker with great outcomes, or when I stood at my desk and wrote that first sentence. Even if it did get the axe.
Because in the end, with any career I've had, with anything I've ever done, the only person I have to answer to at the end of the day is me. Every night I ask myself, "Did I do what I could today?" And I've always been proud to answer, "Yes."