writing is rewriting

So I plucked up courage and read the first draft. It was everything I expected it to be: sloppy, solipsistic, boring. But after reading it, I wrote a list of everything I liked about it, and there were FIVE WHOLE THINGS! So much of the story became clearer to me as I read, particularly towards the end. I realised that there were layers and layers to this story.

I also realised that it’s the kind of story that, if it is not done brilliantly, will be dreadful. It is difficult material and I am terrified of fucking it up.

But I’m working on the second draft, nonetheless.  Two thousand words today. Having the basic story already worked out, more or less, allows me to have a much more interesting time with the writing.

I hope that I can catch up with my short story writing soon, too. Novels are great but very time consuming.

4 Replies to “writing is rewriting”

  1. Well done for not only managing to read it through, but actually feeling energised enough to want to revise it. I remember reading the 1st draft of my novel I wrote 2 years ago and feeling that it was such an enormous task all I could do was bury it and hide. I did try a new draft, but after 3000 words I realised it required a massive rewrite and couldn’t bring myself to do it.
    I’m confident you;ll shape this into something great, Georgina. And I can’t wait to read it!

  2. Thanks Ilan. I’m not convinced, myself. There are some ideas/themes in it which I really like, but I’m beginning to think I need to totally change the setting, and make other major changes, and perhaps it’s too big a task… I don’t know. I will keep at it and see if it starts to come together a bit more.

    Writing is hard!

  3. I find short stories much more difficult to write and very time-consuming.

    When you write a novel, you have a master plan, if not in writing at least in your mind. All your creative efforts focus on the implementation of the master plan (forgive the information system analogy). Nothing is lost, and, unless the story hasn’t percolated enough in your head, you write happily away, characters and subplots finding their place and intertwining in a natural way. Themes can breathe and layers can overlap and poke their heads into the stage, bubbling on the surface, and then plunging again. I spontaneously think “long”. It’s so much more satisfying!

    The danger of this process is the neverending novel. The aim for perfection that makes you revise and revise, sometimes ruining your first insight into the story that wants to emerge. Beware of Lester (or whatever your left brain is called). Being an old (former) rationalist, I am all for the writer’s self-awareness, but I think successful writing is a mélange of Lester and Dester’s viewpoint.

  4. Hmmm… your description of writing a novel is decidedly NOT my experience so far! I find it easier to write short stories – I think I like the way the writing itself shines more in a short story, and does more work overall. Short stories are all about moments and glimpses and insights and the meaning of things, whereas novels are all about characters and actions. Of course, they can (and probably should) both be about both, but I feel more naturally attuned to the former. Trying to write a novel that uses language in an imaginative or even poetic way seems pretty hard when you are struggling with how to get a character from A to B.

    But I consider myself a total novice at novels. I imagine my view will change. Short stories seemed impossible when I first started writing them. Sometimes they still do. But I’ve learned a lot.

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