I'm starting on my novel rewrites this morning. I'll be honest - I'm nervous. I have this fear that I'm not good enough to make the book the best it can be. Have I told you guys about the book at all, other than that it's a book and there has been some interest in it? I've had enough of a response from agents to know that the idea is good and the beginning and middle are good, but the ending needs a facelift.
A facelift is a good comparison actually. I will be performing surgery on The Daily Dylanson Obituaries (that's, um, the name of the book. You probably guessed that). I have to add some things, remove others, tuck here, nip there, and then cringe when I think of the show "Nip and Tuck." But the agent at Joy Harris told me that this is where the real work begins, where the good stuff comes out. No pressure. Sometimes I worry that I'm not the right writer for this book, and maybe I should have taken up that other agent's idea of paying an editor to rewrite it for me.
So here's what I've been telling myself when I have selfdoubts. The beginning and middle work, and it's not that the end is bad, it just needs to include resolution for things that I bring up along the way. If I was a bad writer I wouldn't have gotten this far. So if I'm capable of writing a catchy beginning, then I have it in me to bring the whole thing to a close. To get this far I've had to practice a long, LONG time and, as they say, write, then rewrite, and rewrite. And then after that you rewrite. Then I remind myself of other writers' struggles. Sue Grafton wrote seven books before 'A' is For Alibi all of which (she claims) are under her bed. They were practice. Stephen King threw away Carrie when he was in the middle of writing it. It was his wife who took it out of the trash and told him to finish it.
Then I remind myself of my characters. I love my characters, even the dislikable ones. I want to give them the closure that you don't always get in real life. And I like writing about them so the rewrites should be fun. I just need to keep my critic at bay.
I had a post-it note on the wall above my computer that I should probably put back up. I took it down because Chris and I painted. It's simple but when I was feeling lowly and untalented I'd read it. It said, "Keep trying and don't give up." I used to have another note above my computer that said, "Talent is long patience." I got that from Chicken Soup for the Writer's Soul, and I think that's a good one too, but "Keep trying and don't give up," is simple and to the point.
So, my children, I will leave you with a quote from Ezra Pound. If you're wondering where I find these poems and quotes, I find them on The Writer's Almanac. Amost useful and elegant website. Ezra said, "Man reading should be man intensely alive. The book should be a ball of light in one's hand." Do I like the phrase "man intensely alive" or the comparison of a book to "a ball of light" better? I don't know.
Onto the rewrites.