Thursday, January 15, 2009

Resolutions and Rewrites

Well, it took me a little longer to begin my only resolution for the this year - read a book a week. However I forgive myself totally between travel and teeth there hasn't been too much time. Yesterday I finished The Farmer Needs A Wife by Janet Gover. The first thing I can tell you is that I am smiling just thinking about it. It was the perfect book to begin my resolution with and also the most delightful diversion from the 'pain.' Janet successfully carries the reader through a story filled with characters that are so real and with your hole heart you want them to find love. If you are looking for a book that lift you up then The farmer Needs A Wife is a wonderful place to start.

The next book off the TBR pile was a Christmas present - Annie Dunne by Sebastian Barry. I have just this morning slipped into the pages and was immediately carried away to another time and place.

Now onto rewrites....My plans have gone amok. I was going to plow on with the dirty draft of the new book but now it's on hold. Several things have conspired to this state of affairs.

- Cornwall

- walking

- Toby

- a conversation with the lovely Julie Cohen

- correspondence with a lovely agent

I love the story of August Rock, but as you know I have rewritten the hell out of it and then some more. I have learnt so much by the process, but I knew in my heart that although a much more polished script came out at the end of the endless rewrites AR had lost its heart and my voice. This thought had been in the back of my mind when I began to post Toby's story over Christmas. I hadn't really tinkered with it unlike the rest. Toby's story was not far off the dirty first draft. It still retained its freshness. ACH still has its vitality because I haven't worked it into the ground and I used all that I have gained from killing AR.

This combined with the feedback with said lovely agent started turning over in my mind. Could I start again? Could I find my voice and story's heart if I went back to an early version before I killed it? I will have to wait to find that out, but I am back into AR and loving it. I can hear the story sing if that makes sense. All those wonderful little pings that happen when writing is flowing is happening. So having said I wouldn't rewrite August Rock unless and editor or an agent asked me to - I am. Toby in a way asked me too. He was one ghost that wasn't going to stop haunting me :-)

So this is why there hasn't been any recent installments of his story. I'm afraid I am leaving you hanging but He needs to be with me as I plow back into the heart of the book. I do have to say thank you for being interested in him because it gave the courage to tackle the past so to speak.

Have any of you ever gone back and tried to breath life back into an over worked story?


JJ said...

Wow, that's a brave move, Liz, but you sound passionate enough to do it... I wish you all the very best of luck.

Phillipa said...


Hmm. I don't know what advice to give other than distance can help. Sometimes, when doing revisions, I find that having an ed's green light to junk a chapter or scene is liberating. Writing completely fresh scenes when you already know the characters can work very well.

ChrisH said...

I absolutely know what you mean, Liz and, as JJ says, it's very brave of you to recognise it. It's quite a conjuring trick to keep the magic of the original draft and I sometimes look at revised work and feel a bit wistful about the raw spark that set the process off. Good luck with it.

L-Plate Author said...

Yep, I've worked on a book for years (two years with an agent) and then scrapped it this year. But even at the weekend, after reading another book, it's starting to call to me again. I feel like you that I have worked it into the ground and lost its freshness...but it's such a goddamn fab storyline. Who knows?

Good luck x

Debs said...

Very best of luck with your rewrite. I'm battling with mine at the moment, and would rather be spending time reading Trisha Ashley's fab book.

I definately need to order, The Farmer Needs a Wife.

Flowerpot said...

well done Liz that sounds brave and from the heart which is the most important thing. I have done it and it turned into a very different book!

HelenMHunt said...

You sound really passionate about this - so it must be the right thing to do. Good luck with it.

Jan Jones said...

Liz - the only thing you really need to write is the book that is DEMANDING that you write it.

This is.

So do it.

Rick said...

I love your spirit, Liz!

Breathing life into an overworked story, for me, has always involved taking time off and coming back to it again when I can no longer stand being away from it and feel compelled to resurrect it.

You will dazzle us with another interesting character, won't you?

Lane said...

So glad to hear it Liz. It sounds daunting but exciting. And well worth doing.
All the best with it:-)

cs harris said...

I could win an award for rewriting manuscripts before I got published. I just refused to let go. I would probably have been published years before I was if I'd learned to move on.

In the end, I sold my fourth manuscript. Then with mega revisions I sold my third. My first and second were recently shredded, to save me from the posthumous embarrassment of some heir in need of spare cash deciding to publish them some day. I've actually had offers to publish them, but with so many revisions I decided it wasn't worth it. I knew the rewrites would take a lot of time, the stories would still never be my best work, and I preferred to put that time into something new.

So what were the shredded manuscripts? A contemporary romantic suspense set in France, and a Regency romance about a dashing Viscount named Sebastian St.....

In writing, nothing is ever really wasted.

Pat Posner said...

Good luck, Liz.


Steve Malley said...

I won't say I'd never revisit my earlier work, so instead I'll say, 'rarely'...

Janet G said...

Thank you for those nice comments about The Farmer Needs A wife. I am so glad you enjoyed it.
On the subject of re-writing - I know what you mean about overworking something, and losing it along the way. I think your own writer's heart will tell you when you lose it - and when you get it back. So if it feels good - you go girl!