Rewrite becalmed

I’ve read in the past (is that redundant?) of writers who lose all drive for their work once the first draft is completed. Whatever it was that compelled them to write, that woke them from their warm bed at 3:00 a.m. to get to work in the quiet solitude, that tormented them until some passable sequence of events was laid down that properly told the tale, was satisfied by the initial telling and that further compulsion is dissipated. This is one reason, some suggest, why rewriting is often found to be so difficult.

I wonder if I am suffering with this syndrome. I have found that while the rewrite is going well, it’s not going much. I’ve made it through seven chapters of what I expect to be twenty-one, but I’ve stalled out a bit on chapter eight. I haven’t given the rewrite a moment’s attention in the last week, which makes me wonder if my enthusiasm has waned fatally or merely suffers the sniffles.

I have been busy in this time with “real world” demands, including travel to strange lands (the son’s university town) and other obligations that have eaten into my writing and solitude time. Further, I have become enamored with two short story ideas in recent days, one of which is already two-thirds written in first draft and the other of which is tumbling into my head with dispatch (mostly due, I think, to the conviction that I already know the market that will accept it).

Another reason why my rewrite may be becalmed right now is that in chapter eight I’ve run into the first serious rewriting I must do. There are some apparent redundancies here that I must grapple with. The chapter is much too long, and it won’t hurt to cut words, but I must wrap my head around the whole chapter, keeping in mind my protagonist’s evolving mental state, and decide just which of the revelations he has (more than once) should stay and should go.

I also have the revelation by the antagonist of a particular piece of important information in this chapter. I’ve struggled with whether that should stay in or come later. (In fact, it does come later. I wrote a key chapter farther along where this important revelation is made again, having more or less forgotten that I had included it in this earlier chapter. I think that is telling me that I must use the latter occurrence since it seems to have sprung naturally from the story telling. The point is that I must figure this part out.)

So the rewriting struggle continues, and all the while I realize when it is done I still must rewrite it once again with a third person narrator.

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

2 Comments on “Rewrite becalmed”

  1. Pete Says:

    If the short stories are what intrigues you most right now, then blow off some steam and write them. If the novel rewrite is meant to be, you’ll come back to it when you’re ready.

  2. Brian Keaney Says:

    I think there’s some kind of Creativity Management Program inside most writers that has its own schedule. It knows when it’s the right time for us to write, when we should edit and when we should forget the whole thing. Sometimes you can try your hardest but if the program doesn’t think you should be doing this particular job right now, it just cuts off the flow. Don’t worry about it. Do something else that appeals to you and forget about the rewrite. Before you know where you are you’ll be longing to get back to it.


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