It's clear to me that I could spend a year--or forever, for that matter--constantly revisiting a book, trying to improve it.
Thing is, you can never be completely sure that you are actually improving it. Last night I got it in my head to cut as much of the first 40 pages as I could. In the middle of the process I had messed it up so much that I was afraid I couldn't come back from it. (Worse, I'd somehow lost changes in previous draft.)
I managed to wrestle the story in shape, but it was a near thing. Spent all day with it.
But I'm holding myself to a new standard.
When I first came back to writing, the object was to actually finish the damn books. And then the object was to not mess them up.
Both of these were big problems in my first career--getting bogged down, confusing myself, not finishing, or actually messing up the books. Mostly due to terrible work habits.
So I got the procedure down this time, on the first drafts at least. Now I'm trying the refine the process on the second drafts. It's not as fun, but I think I've figured out ways to make it interesting at least.
Trouble with rewrites is that they open the door to doubts. But doubts are probably necessary to the process, as much as I love the certainty of my first drafts.
So if I'm going to ask people to read my books, I need to make the extra effort.
I was talking to Linda about how many of the rewrite changes are about "technique." And she said, I'd don't think I worry about technique "consciously."
I said, "Consciousness is the essence, almost the definition, of technique."
I was going to give the book one more re-read, but I'm done. I started the last read through, started to change a few words, realized I could no longer tell if I was improving it or making it worse. What I call "Word Jumble.) Since I can no longer see it with any perspective whatsoever, I'd better back away. Send it off, see what others have to say, but leave it alone from now on.
The Catch-22 of re-writing is that it exposes my weaknesses, which make me want to give up. I mean, it just shows I need to get better, but discourages me from trying.
Though I did have an interesting experience. After experiencing the word-jumble effect and giving up last night, I started to read some online articles and they seemed terribly written and all I could see was the weaknesses.
Which probably means it's just a frame of mind and if I come back later, I might have a different experience.
First drafts are so much fun. I'll just leave it at that.
3 days ago