Fourth Draft Jitters Part 2

Just when I thought I was out . . . It’s not finished by a long shot.

Last week, I wrote about the novel I was writing. I was nervous because after a month of letting it lie dormant, I was about to dive into the fourth revision. I didn’t know what I was going to find.

The plan was to find a quiet place and read through it in one sitting. I started to read and after thirty pages I had to stop. It was too disappointing. Everything that had seemed so sparkling and trenchant a month ago was flat on the page, a dead thing.


A few days later, I read some more. I came to the conclusion that there was nothing wrong that couldn’t be improved by pitching the first 150 pages into a burning tar hellhole of a pit.

Double grrr.

So. Decision. I can see the problems plainly. I can identify them. I can name them. I can put the proper colored tag on each one.

What I don’t know is whether I can fix them. That is, I may be at the limit of my skill and talent. Alternatively, I could seek feedback and educate myself further and see where that takes me. I expect that I would then be capable of making some changes, but not have the ability or talent to make others.  I may have to accept that this is where I am.

Or I could just scrap the whole thing.

Today, however, I had a more positive experience. I decided to sit down again and start reading from page 151 until I reached the end, some 200 pages later. And I was able to do it. Sometimes I was smiling, and sometimes I was giving myself mental high fives. I liked what I read in that latter part. I was compelled to keep reading up to the end. The patient was definitely worth saving.

I think I see the path I have to take.

The first third doesn’t work because it takes too long for my actors to become active. I need to chisel away the rest of the marble to reveal the action of my story. My protagonist needs to be confronted with her problem within the first few pages. Settings need to be clarified, chronology and seasons sorted out, cliches ditched, language sharpened. I think these are all possible, all within my skill set.

So my time line is extended one more time. They’ve pulled me back in. We can’t let each other go yet. I’ll be back at my desk again tomorrow, as always, trying to write myself out.

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