Complete do-over: On rewriting, maybe

Let’s be honest: Anything anyone’s ever told you about writing? There’s like a 60% chance it’s completely wrong for the project you’re working on. So don’t mind me as I waffle endlessly about how to do things.

My current “am i doing it right is this okay or have i gone round the bend” thing is this novel I’m working on. And have been, for quite some time now. I spent months last year doing a serious edit, and this spring was finally able to get some writing friends to critique the draft. I received such great, thoughtful, engaged, and excited feedback that I was freshly pumped about a story I was feeling run down on.

The next day, I was accepted into a short story workshop. After some frantic note-organizing, I completely switched gears to short stories for about two months.

Yesterday I returned to the novel and all the notes I had made. And I thought “I should rewrite this entirely.”

In various drafts, I had already made some rounds of serious structural edits, so I felt like I knew what I was comparing. I knew what it meant to look at the draft and my notes and prep another revision. I knew how much I would want to cling to what was already there. And I knew what I really wanted this novel to feel like, the energy I wanted it to have, the plotlines I wanted to focus on…

And some part of me said, “I should rewrite this entirely.”

It’s a lot of work. My god, it’s a lot of work. Because that fresh draft, while backed by years of thinking about this story and working out kinks in character, plot, and world-building, will take X weeks to write, will need a new round of edits, will want a new round of early readers (if they’ll indulge me).

But today I’m looking at my notes on a potential new outline, and I’m thinking, “I should rewrite this entirely.”

I’m giving it a week for the shock of the idea to wear off, so I can sit with it and decide if it really is a good idea.

Reader (if you are reading this, ever, at any time), how do you figure out rewrites and/or edits? Alternately: Have I gone round the bend?

Confession of failure, already?

That grand plan of mine? I already kicked it over. Yesterday I came home with a headache and feeling rotten, and it was hot, and my cat was cute, and I just, I just really wanted to watch some NewsRadio with my eyes closed, okay?

Back on it today, though. Stories out on sub, having a staring contest with another piece, and I’m about to settle in with a delicious book about a mill strike.

Considering how much amazing free food I got today, I think the universe is okay with my day off yesterday.

I’m going to say right now that there was always a caveat for “movies or TV watched at the behest of friends” so if I happen to go see Ghostbusters then so be it.

But I do want to have as few exceptions as possible, because I’m curious about effects. Everything has an effect on the way you see the world, the way you think, what rattles around in your brain. So what happens when you take a hard right and change a large chunk of the input?

Hopefully genius.

On taking a break from media

I went to this two-week short story workshop, which was amazing. I got back a month ago, and have been meaning to write something about it. I think about it almost every day.

I went to Readercon last weekend, too, and intended to write something about it. Haven’t.

The short story workshop left me with three stories with varying amounts of polishing needed. None of them are on sub yet.

I have this idea for a project that I want to develop. I’ll need collaborators. I’ll need a co-writer, and people who know more about audio files than I do. But first I need to figure out more of it.

I miss playing with interactive fiction and Twine. It’s been a long time since I even opened Twine.

I want to play with writing poetry.

All of these things feel like they’re buried under a pile of junk. I don’t know what that junk is. Maybe it’s the god-awful heat of summer, as I am a creature made of dry dead leaves and impending snow. But I think it’s something else, what with the existence of air-conditioning and sun dresses.

It’s time for drastic measures, you see. In the past those drastic measures would be “BAN TUMBLR, BAN TWITTER.” But I’m not on Tumblr anymore, not really, and Twitter is important to me. Also, not that distracting most of the time.

So I’ve unplugged my external hard drives. No TV, no movies. I don’t have Netflix anymore. I’ll always have YouTube, but it’s not an automatic reflex/refuge.

I might take a break from most of my podcasts. They’ll be there when I come back, after all.

As a test, I’m even going to refrain from picking up another piece of fiction for a while. Just to see what happens in my brain. I read a lot. I can take a break for two weeks. And I’ve heard so many writers talk about how they can or can’t read other things when they’re in the midst of a project that I finally realized I’d never tried that. I’d always assumed I was fine. So I’m going to take a break on purpose.

No TV, no movies, no podcasts, no fiction. It’s kind of terrifying, actually. Distractions are very comforting.

Does anyone else ever do this? Do you institute a media blackout, or other sort of drastic measures? Or do you have other tactics to get things done?

Jams: Xenia Rubinos

Xenia Rubinos by Angela Altus

It’s been a while since I’ve even so much as thought about blogging, but that’s less because of an existential crisis (I already know there’s no point and I’m typing into a vast void) and more because I’ve been busy. With words and stuff! Which I may write something about later.

But I thought, if I want to jump back in, how should I?

Madly, while dancing.

BAND: Xenia Rubinos
GENRE: A Witch Dancing Out Of Rhythm With Her Familiar
ABOUT: Look, she sings in Spanish and English, she uses syncopation and funk and dance beats, she sings about being alone and laying eggs in lovers’ mouths. I can’t imagine what more you want from me.
LISTEN TO: “Help” from Magic Trix

Black Terry Cat is her new album that dropped in late May, and I’d love to recommend something from it, but Magic Trix is still kind of echoing in my head after a year, so go listen to the whold dang thing, would you?