Tuesday, May 15, 2012
I've come a long way, it seems...
Some things should be left under the bed -- or left languishing on your hard drive. Some of the stuff I've written is just bad. I know that. I accept that. These things have deep flaws that simply cannot be fixed. But there's some stuff on my hard drive that's not too bad. It might be rough and full of rookie mistakes, but there's something there. Something fixable through the magic of revision.
So I pull out a project that's special to me. I love the characters, and even though it wasn't quite right, I'm just not willing to let it go without at least trying to fix it.
Are parts of it really wrong? You bet. Shaky conflict, slow pacing, not enough tension. But the thing is, I see it now. I've written enough books that I can see where and why this one is wrong. Time, distance, and a bunch of other books have given me the perspective necessary to see the flaws.
And, amazingly enough, I knew how to fix them. So I'm having an absolute ball taking two characters I truly love and fixing their story. Making it into something I want others to read -- and that I think they'll enjoy.
So it's very cool to see how far I've come. Sometimes I feel like a total hack who has no clue what she's doing and only gets books written out of sheer luck. Maybe that's not the case, after all. I mean, I'm looking at this and saying, "Wow, that's wrong. I really should have done this. I'll move this scene here, move that section over there, add a scene in the middle of that, and voila!" Conflict is stronger, tension is higher, pacing clipping right along.
But that's not even the coolest -- or maybe I should say strangest -- part. What's freaky is that I can see the beginnings of my voice in this project. It's quiet and unsure of itself and often buried under things like the "should dos" and the "way to write," but it's there. I look at a sentence or a phrase or a scene and think "that just sounds kinda wrong." Because the one thing I have found in the intervening years is my voice. This is the way I write: some folks are going to hate it and some folks are going to love it. But that's me. My voice. What makes my books MY BOOKS.
I didn't have that confidence when I wrote this the first time, so I toned my voice down, buried it under cliches and awkward phrasing that sounded "writerly." Needless to say, I'm having to rewrite a lot of it. But it's easy writing because the bones are there already. I don't really feel like I'm revising. I feel more like I'm just freeing my voice.
And freeing my voice makes this project completely different and much better than it was before. And that's kind of cool...