Second Verse NOT same as the first?

I hate rewrites.  I always have and I always will.

The problem is I enjoy the implied finality that comes with finishing writing a book.  For example, I finished my sci-fi/noir book two weeks ago.  I was the happiest sumbitch on the planet.  At this point all I need to do is finish typing it into word (I write almost exclusively longhand with pen and paper) so that my “beta testers” can read it and give me some feedback and notes.  I want the notes, and I want to know what to fix or improve on.

However, at the same time, I dread the fact that I’m going to have to do it regardless of how badly I know it needs to be done.

Case in point, I’m finally revisiting my first ‘decent’ novel, A Darkling Plain.  I started it in college and finally finished it the winter of ’01 (or “Aught-One” as I’m fond of now saying).  I’ve known for the last ten years that it was in desperate need of a rewrite and even have known for years some of the changes I wanted to make to it.  Still, I’ve never done it.  I’ve put it off and put it off for a decade.  Why?

Because I hate rewrites.

There are two reasons why:  A.  I get married to the original draft.  I know I want to make changes but when it comes to taking the axe to sections or characters or dialog part of me is suddenly there screaming that it can’t be done because a. leads to b. or what have you.  Yes, there are ways of getting around that and it will improve the overall book.  All the same, I’m suddenly one of those packrat freaks on A&E who load their house full of shit and can’t bear to sacrifice any of it despite it just stinking and cluttering up the house.

Then there’s B.  It’s not as fun as doing the original draft.  It’s like watching a movie again for the 100th time; you already know all of the characters, you know exactly what’s going to happen next, and there’s nothing new to be discovered.  It’s not entirely true because I’m going to be changing the movie, but the sentiment is still there.

It’s a little bit different with Plain, though.  I’m excited to make the changes because I know I’m a more mature writer now and I think I’ve improved in the last ten years.  Most of the “tools” in my toolbox are the same, but they might have a bit more polish.  I’m less derivitive of my literary heroes and have found more of my own voice in my detective fiction so I know that will help.  The changes I want to make are a bit more realistic and less like a bad Shane Black film.

Also, in reading it now it’s so painfully clear that it was written by a college kid who watched too many shoot em up action movies in the 80s and 90s.  It makes it almost embarassing for me to read it and I want to push it far away from me.

There is one upside to this.  The character of Alex Pine was introduced in A Darkling Plain and is also in Our Own Devils (available for purchase at amazon.com!).  I had started this book and created the character before I met my wife, Amanda.  However, much of my wife went into her as the story grew.  Now as I’m going through the rewrite I can put even more of her into Alex.  So in one way, it’s like I’m getting to meet Amanda all over again.  That’s pretty nice.

In the meantime, I’ve been blogging about this whole thing while the new manuscript lies neglected on my desk.  I should get back to work now.

Nah, funk that.  I’m gonna get some sub-par Chinese food instead.

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