Chapter 7 and seven years

I continue to make fitful progress on the rewriting of the two chapters I lost from The Sleep of Reason when my hard drive crashed. I have now rewritten Chapters 6 and 7, and in the process I’ve found that I will need a new Chapter 8 to complete the work I had done before in only two chapters.

Aside from the hard work of writing and the abiding loathing that I have to do so because of my own stupidity, I’m finding the process fascinating in a way. I’m watching myself as I approach the old material in a fresh way. I’m seeing how I would do it if I really could “do it all over again” because I really can.

I think the writing, the development of the story, is inherently better this time through in part because I have the memory of the old chapters to build upon but also because in the time since I wrote the originals, I’ve continued to evolve the story and characters, so I know them more completely and thus know how they should perform in these middle chapters. (I think the end of Chapter 7 is the midpoint of the story, but we’ll see.)

Some ancient Greek — it may have been Sophocles — is supposed to have said that one should wait seven years between the first draft and a rewrite. You occasionally hear of writers who return to old efforts sometimes decades after they’d first attempted them and find they can make a success of them finally. By and large, though, I don’t think most writers hew very closely to this advice.

Still, it is curious (to me) how this story of mine has developed. As I think I noted in an earlier post, I had begun this novel originally as a short story nearly a decade ago. It went nowhere at the time because I didn’t have an ending for it. Now, so many years later, all of that early work comprises Chapter 1 of the novel that the short story has become. Does this count as the seven year wait? The rebuilding of the two lost chapters is something of the same thing. I’m revisiting work I’d already done, breathing a new kind of life into it and finding myself writing something even better than before. (At least that’s how it feels to me.)

All of this navel gazing is probably fascinating to someone, but I’ll be happy when I get past these reconstructions (one more chapter!) and back into fresh territory. There is so much to be done.

Explore posts in the same categories: Humble efforts, Sleep of Reason

2 Comments on “Chapter 7 and seven years”

  1. Jane Smith Says:

    If you ever have a hard drive crash on you again, remember that you can almost always peel the information out of it–so long as you do it BEFORE you attempt any repairs to the disk. I’ve managed this three times now, and am getting rather good at it!

    I’ll blog about this in detail next week, so you’ll know how to do it next time it happens to you.

    (And thanks for dropping in on my blog–I hope to see you again there soon.)

  2. I enjoyed reading your blog…. It is wonderful to think that old Sop’ may have been right, maybe less of us new writers would land up in the slushpiles as there would be less manuscript around of publishers and agents to read.

    Best wishes and lots of luck with your writing,


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