by Beth K. Vogt
It’s often said that writing is rewriting.
And I’ve often said how much I love rewriting.
But if you’d seen me a few weeks ago as I rewrote the fast draft of my second novel, you would have doubted not only my love of rewriting-but my emotional stability as well. Over the course of three days, I:
• Walked away from my computer – again and again and again.
• Muttered under my breath.
• Buried my face in my hands and cried.
• Took several naps – because, when all else fails, why not nap?
• Ate an entire one pound bag of jelly beans. And, no, it did not take me three days to finish the bag.
Not a whole lot of love going on.
My stated goal? Forward motion on my work-in-progress (WIP): Up my word count, polish my prose, build my storyworld, deepen my spiritual thread.
I did not want to tear my manuscript apart, sift through my chapters and rebuild my story’s structure. And yet, there I was, going all the way back to chapter 1 and formulating a timeline, of all things. A timeline. My story morphed from a manuscript to one of those crazy sliding block picture puzzles where the scene is all jumbled up. I spent hours shifting scenes and chapters around until-finally!-the story fell into place again.
I learned two important lessons on this side of my crazy rewriting days:
1. Rewriting doesn’t always mean you’re writing. Sometimes rewriting means re-plotting your book, ensuring the story spine is straight. One possible pitfall of a fast draft (a high-speed rough draft) is veering off-course and losing sight of the story’s beginning, middle and end.
2. Don’t fight the process. I knew what I wanted to accomplish during the rewriting phase. But I didn’t leave any room for what needed to be done. Expectations so often block out reality. This is true in my writing life, as well as my personal life. It would have been so much easier – and wiser – to stop the writer tantrum and go with the flow. I wasted valuable energy and time resisting what needed to be done.
The moral of my story: Rewriting – whatever that looks like – is writing. I also learned one other minor lesson: Sometimes you eat the jelly beans … and deal with the calories later.
Beth K. Vogt’s contemporary romance novel, Wish You Were Here (Howard Books), debuts May 2012. She’s the Skills Coach for the My Book Therapy writing community and a consulting editor for MomSense magazine. Join the conversation over at Beth’s blog, In Others’ Words, at bethvogt.com.