Oh, Rewrites. You are like that cat that kept coming back the very next day. Just when I think you’re gone and I’m done with you, I hear you meowing. Sure, you look cute and cuddly. You might even purr as you’re drooling on my shoulder and digging your little retractable razors into my flesh. But you see, you won’t go away.
It’s only after a very long time spent with you that I realize that you’re actually one of my most valuable friends. While my first draft may seem like a shining achievement — and don’t get me wrong; it is — it’s like a kid building her first tower of blocks. An accomplishment to be sure, but not quite the Empire State Building. To get to that level, it takes a lot more practice. And math classes. That too.
I’m getting to the end of my first draft of my second novel, and that means that I’m starting to hear little mewling sounds at my front door. The sounds of the Rewrite Cat come to tell me that it’s time to go back to Primeval and fix it. I used to approach rewriting with a huge sense of trepidation. Even a little anxiety. I thought that if I had to rewrite and revise, it meant that I wasn’t a good writer. Silly, silly, amateur me. No matter how good a first draft is, it can always get better, which is the point of revision.
In contemplation of this little kitty peering through my windows now, snaking her tail along the borders between window panes, it’s clear that she just wants the best for my story. She wants to make sure that everything is told the way it will resonate with readers best. I have said this before, but I’ll say it again: a vomit draft is when we tell our story to ourselves. In a vomit draft, we can spew out all the back story and little random details because it’s important that we know that when we move forward. When we polish it up, though, we choose the most economical route between points A and B. We want our readers to grab the rope, jump off the ledge, and swing right to the other side without getting hit in the face with tree branches. If they’re going to take a risk on our book, we need them to want to grab the rope.
I know my first draft of Primeval has its issues. There are a lot of things I want to tighten up, streamline. Some things I need to flesh out a bit more. So as soon as I finish my first draft of Elemental, I will let this scratching little kitty in, pet her a bit, and give her a bowl of cream that she can get in her whiskers. She’s going to be my constant companion until this story gleams like a stone straight out of the tumbler.
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