writing is rewriting

and rewriting is hard!

I’ve doubted my One-Match Fire story “Men at Work and Play” for nearly as long as I’ve had it written. It’s full of sweetness and light, and it certainly achieved what I wanted it to when I wrote it — I even got it published — but it never quite felt like it belonged. It was just too nice, and as the stories evolved, I could see that it wasn’t a good fit.

So I’ve been working on it in recent days, not so much to make it bleak and fraught but to change its tone slightly — just enuf to give it the edge it needs and relate it better to later stories in the cycle. In the story (which you can read here if you want) the grandfather, father, and son do some work on the cabin. But in my revision, two of them must also do some work on their relationship since there was an uncharacteristic explosion of anger by one of them. None of that is in the story now, and once I’m finished putting it in, it will be indirectly referenced and only “explained” much later in the cycle of stories (which means I need to tinker with that later story a little too).

Many things are left unsaid in relationships. Many answers are only revealed years, even decades later. I do a little of that in the stories, just as it happens in real life. (For example, I learned only last week that my father had rickets as a boy from malnutrition. Now I understand why he pushed some dietary supplements on us.) I wonder if my oblique references to a “fight” in the story will leave the reader unsatisfied — for the moment. I worry that an agent or editor will want it spelled out more clearly. But I guess that’s part of rewriting, too.

 

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