Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Joy of the Rewrite

After my eighth revision, I'm still quite fond of my manuscript. I feel like this is a good thing. Rewrites, after all, have been known to drive even the most dedicated writers toward madness. Or something close to it. I absolutely know the feeling of looking at something you've seen 489 times, and thinking, wow, my brain feels nauseous. I get that feeling a lot in medical school. Then again, the only thing that seems to come up again and again and again in med school is this: smoking is bad for you. So is pregnancy.

In any case, I'm the type of person who savors criticism, not because I like getting burned, but because I simply don't see what other people see. I need someone to tell me what I'm doing wrong. I need a reader to step in and say, "Yeah, so...this doesn't make sense." I tend to overthink everything. I wrote one manuscript that made no sense at all. I finally saw the light when someone came right out and said it, and it was probably the best feedback I've ever received. Simplification is a good thing.

My favorite source of feedback/inspiration/confusion, though, is definitely my mother. She doesn't read manuscripts. I've tried. I've sent her every single one of them, hoping she'll read them and tell me how much she embraces her daughter's talent. But she's never read a single one, at least not beyond the first 30 pages. I used to feel slighted by this, but no more. My mom is always there to listen to my ideas, to tell me to keep a scene or throw it out (regardless of the fact she has no clue about the context), and she reminds me to limit the curse words and sex scenes. Note that my mom gets the PG-13 version of everything I've ever written. It was a relief for us both when I started writing YA.

Tonight I talked to my mom about a certain scene, an emotional climax of sorts when two characters finally make out. I dropped it from the final rewrite, and she told me to put it back in. "You write kisses well, Kathleen," she said. Huh?

So we'll see. I'm just happy Rewrite #8 is finished, and it's a thousand times better than Rewrite #2. At least I hope so. The kiss is back in, the curse words are gone, the sex scenes are non-existent. So according to my mom, at least, I've created a masterpiece.

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