The existential angst of rewriting something old and why I didn’t enter ABNA this year

5 Mar

I once again committed the cardinal sin of allowing this old thing to fall dormant for a few months. I would love to tell you that I was too busy working on some brand new, life-changing fiction. There has been some of that, I am happy to say, but it is probably not a coincidence that I met my lovely boyfriend a few days after my most recent post, and that has provided quite the distraction this year. However, no more excuses! Domestic happiness should not cause creative stagnation!

This year so far has been a difficult creative journey, one that feels a little like taking a spinning class. I know that progress is being made, but I would swear that the wheels are just spinning in place.

I am putting some serious rewriting into Morbid Curiosity. The fact that I thought this book was completely done, ready for representation, has made it difficult to tackle. I sent it out last summer to a dozen agents and received a few bites that became very thoughtful rejections. I sat on those rejections for months, working occasionally on other projects. When I came back to Morbid Curiosity, I had some ideas on how to improve the story. Just a few tweaks to the first third, spice up some of the dry sections with a heightened relationship.

The whole process has reminded me of a time I was making a meal and realized I had used the wrong kind of cheese in the sauce. It tasted okay, but was not the taste I had been looking forward to, so I went ahead and added the right cheese. It was way too cheesy. I added more cream. It was bland. I added more salt. The cooks in the room can see what’s coming.

So my revision became a rewrite.

I had intended to revise in time for Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award, but as I began to see that what I thought I could do with some surgical changes would actually require whole rewrites of seventy percent of the book, I gave up on that notion. It feels strange to have no work out there being judged and read. For the first time in years, there’s no one anywhere right now appraising any part of my books or any other creative work. I’m retreating to the blackboard. I insist that I am not sulking back, cringing from rejection, but returning because my standards have risen.

In the meanwhile, while I hack away at a polished work in order to make it better, I will do my best to return here and work this writing muscle. Regular posts return next week.

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