Damn! Bugger! And blast!
I recently crowed in this space that I was into the endgame with the current story as I launched myself into the task of polishing to make it presentable to the world.
Well, in the task of polishing I think I uncovered a lot of crud.
I was tweaking sentences and punctuation when I realised two things. One, the voice is horrible. Second, I’m hitting the reader over the head with the themes as if they were frying pans.
The alert reader (Hi!) will see immediately that these are two huge things to be wrong with a story, going right to the tone and heart of the thing.
Oops, as they say.
My first reaction was to pretend I hadn’t noticed, hoping that the reader will not notice for real. But, of course, the reader will notice. Unlike the writer, the reader is not privy to what the story was supposed to be like, or what the writer hoped it would be like, or what the writer desperately pretended was otherwise. The reader has only the words on the page to go on, and if they aren’t up to snuff, then there is disappointment.
And embarrassment for me.
So, back to it. A wall-to-wall rewrite.
At this point I ought to be discouraged. Will this bloody thing never get off my hard drive? Perhaps I ought to follow the masters like Tolstoy or Gogol and petulantly burn my manuscripts, put on a hair shirt, and join a doomsday cult.
But no, I feel oddly excited. The pulse quickens because I know what I need to do to correct the story, I think I know how to do it, and best of all, if I pull off the changes, the story will be all the better for it.
It’s an odd feeling, and, I suspect, a mad one: Who gets an adrenalin buzz from something so pedestrian and nerdy as sitting in a chair and making shit up? Well, pedestrian nerds that’s who.
Talking of readers, I am also sure that it was the interest people showed in the story following my last update, and the nice things that people have lately said about earlier stories that stimulated me to take a harder, more critical look at this effort from the point of view of a reader. It was a bit like some of you were looking over my shoulder, making me self-conscious to the point I paid a bit more attention to what I was doing.
So thank you for that!
Meanwhile, excuse me — I think I may be about to hyperventilate. Lucky me!