Wednesday, 1 June 2022

#IWSG JUNE POST - IS ANY WRITING EVER WASTED?

 Hello and welcome to the June IWSG where writers gather around the campfire and discuss the ups and downs of the writing life. It goes without saying that the purpose is to encourage each other. I know I always learn something! 

Alex's awesome co-hosts for the June 1 posting of the IWSG are SE White, Cathrina Constantine, Natalie Aguire, Joylene Nowell Butler, and Jacqui Murray! If time allows, please visit them.


I'm not answering the question today. 

I haven't been able to get Michael di Gesu's last IWSG post out of my head all month. Michael posed the question - 'when is it time to do a complete rewrite of your novel?' 

Michael went on to say - 'Originally I wrote this [Mommy Kay] as a memoir and had sent it to a top editor in NYC. She made several suggestions and I was almost finished when the person I am writing about decided she wanted changes. MAJOR changes.' Which to me, Denise, tore the heart out of the book.

My heart plummeted. What a situation for Michael to face. I know he'll come to a positive conclusion, but at the end of the day, he's potentially faced with three years of his writing life coming to naught. 

Or is he?

I've always believed that writing is the best way to learn your craft. I struggle to make sense of the craft books that line my shelves - I don't have the brain for them - people are always saying - read this or that - my brain fizzes, probably because I'm basically a pantser, or Discovery Writer - trying to be a plotter. Which only works for me as I have two sharp critique partners who love structural editing and walk me through the 'beats' of a good plot. Painful, but you've gotta do it as readers are smart people, they know when a 'beat' is missing.

So I think I wrote Ray Bradbury's 'million bad words' before my writing approached competency. I have about 5 books I haven't touched yet, but I'm powering on with new ideas. Now the flow is much easier. The six books I published in 2021? Most were begun in 2016 when I didn't have much of a clue - so a long hard road to getting it anywhere near right. 

There are mainly two lines of though re a deep re-write. The self-publishing gurus at 20Booksto20K FB group recommend forgetting about published stories full of holes which you recognize after you've become a better writer. Just get on and write the next book, and the next. Whereas others recommend making those changes that annoy you or perhaps reviewers found irritating. (For a list of sites which help the self-publishing journey, click on the image in my sidebar where I gathered them together for Damyanti @Damyantiwrites).

I did a re-write on my first of series vampire novel, Betrayed, because I couldn't not,  mainly sharpening up the beginning. Edition 2, according to Amazon. Along with a more 'to market' cover, time will tell if a new set of ads will make the time invested worthwhile. (((shrugs))) Who knows?


With traveling and having the flu, I was out of writing commission for 5 weeks, so now I'm playing catch up. One of the things I did was to make a page of My Books, where all my publications, or soon-to-be publications are in one place. I hope you'll take a peek. If a book appeals to you, contact me in the comments or via email and I'll send you a free copy if you'll review it for me. As a beginning self-published writer with a small fan base, gathering reviews is the hardest part. The good news is that I'm going to cut down on the 5 years I polished these 6 books. The companion book to 'Paris Dreams' will take me a year at most. Whoop-de-do.

But back to Michael. To re-write or not, that is the question?

What do you think? I'm sure Michael would appreciate your input along with moi. (I've added the link to Michael's post above).

~*~

And always with the WEP. Today the first post of the month goes live. If you want to sharpen your skills, or get eyes on your new WIP,  you're welcome to post an extract.



Thanks for coming by.

Denise 




36 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Sometimes it's nice to go back and fix mistakes. Many years ago, my publisher put out a call to all of us that if we wanted to fix anything in our earlier novels, please do. I finally got to fix one major annoying mistake in my first book!

Elephant's Child said...

Knowing it is impossible I am a perfectionist and would love the opportunity to fix my errors. All of them. In every avenue. Knowing that you have done the very best you can do and letting the book fly free must be (like parenting) a very hard point to realise you have reached.
That said, this reader applauds the courage and the diligence of all writers. Thank you.

Natalie Aguirre said...

That's awesome that your next Paris Dreams book will take a year at most to finish. I think the problem for Michael is that the person he wrote this for requested major changes, which he made. He has to decide if it is worth it to rewrite it again, especially since he's not enjoying working with the person anymore.

I've interviewed many authors who had to do a rewrite of their story at some point before getting an agent. They knew their story needed it, and it helped them get published. Each situation is unique.

Denise Covey said...

Yes Natalie I'm a fan of rewrites as I can't stand seeing mistakes. But not always possible. Sometimes we just have to press on.

Denise Covey said...

I hate that annoying mistake that maybe only the author sees. No matter how much editing a traditionally-published novel has undergone, even in best sellers, I still find mistakes. If I had time, I'd put up my 'line editor' shingle.

Denise Covey said...

You're right Sue. Publishing a book is like sending your darlings out into the world.

Roland D. Yeomans said...

I am at the re-write stage of my latest novel. You know you get muscles? Weight resistance -- lifting weights. We grow as writers by lifting the weight of rewriting over and over again until we get it right. At least that is what I am telling myself!

Denise Covey said...

Good point Roland. Yes our writing muscles improve with exercise too. Nice of you to visit.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Denise - I'll be there for WEP ... but I so admire all who write whole books! I enjoy writing, but have never worried since I started blogging and just persevere to get something out. It gets easier over time - even though I'm not a great example ... I enjoy being part of the community - cheers and good to see you back feeling better - Hilary

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I've redone my first books twice and would like to redo them again. All the work I've done with DLP has shown me so many errors I couldn't see before.

I feel really bad for Michael. That's such a tough spot.

Jemi Fraser said...

It's a tough question. I started writing maybe 15 years ago? I wrote and rewrote a story multiple times and sent it off to agents. Got fabulous feedback from a few agents on fulls. Realized I didn't know anything about writing :) Spent a full decade reading everything I could on writing and publishing, and writing (with an eye to learning not publishing). I've definitely covered the million bad words! Now, I've learned to trust my gut a lot more - and trust my own weird and wacky process

Rachna Chhabria said...

Hi Denise, I agree that writing is the best way to fix our craft. The more we write the better we get.

Nick Wilford said...

Michael's issue is that it wasn't his decision to rewrite. He might be very happy with what he wrote, so this would leave a sour taste - but I am a believer that all writing is good experience. I haven't yet redone any self-published books. It always seemed a bit messy to me, but listening to feedback from reviews is probably a good thing to do.

cleemckenzie said...

I've had this happen once, and I understand how difficult it can be. You have to face tossing out so much that you've labored over for a long time.

A Hundred Quills said...

I'm scratching my head over the only completed MS I have, which needs to be heavily edited but I can't seem to get down to it. To think of a rewrite at this moment only makes me feel terrible. But as you said, does it really go waste? I had no idea you have so many books out in the world. Wonderful Denise, I just checked them out.
-Sonia

Olga Godim said...

I don't usually do a full re-write of my stories. Editing - yes. Revisions - certainly. But if a story needs a complete overhaul, it is probably not good enough to bother with. I'd rather write something entirely new. Maybe on the same theme or with the same characters.
Of course, it is my personal opinion. I couldn't presume to give such an advice to Michael or anyone. It is totally the writer's decision.

Denise Covey said...

Thanks for your opinion Olga. Yep. Totally what the writer can live with.

Denise Covey said...

I understand some writers abhor editing/rewriting, but I'm a strange one who'd like to edit forever. Thanks for checking out my books.

Denise Covey said...

A difficult decision either way Lee.

Damyanti Biswas said...

So honored to be a part of this post. Thanks for the shout out Denise :) I'm so glad one of my themes helped!

Denise Covey said...

Yes I'm sure the rewrite wasn't Michael's idea. A shame. But I'm sure it'll work out for him.

Denise Covey said...

So true Rachna.

Denise Covey said...

Realized I didn't know anything about writing. LOL. I can drink to that. I once sat down for an editor friend to read my first completed book, all glowy as I sipped my G&T. Turns out I had no idea how to write, either. Editor friend seems to think I've learned something since those days, thankfully.

Denise Covey said...

We certainly learn as we go Diane. I've learned a lot from the editing on my entry to the Anthology.

Denise Covey said...

I'd love to see a history tome from you Hilary. It's lovely having you part of the blogging community.

Denise Covey said...

Oh yes it helped for sure Damyanti. Always a pleasure to work with you.

Fundy Blue said...

I think I'm approaching a "million bad words," so you've given me hope, Denise. Joking aside, I appreciated the insights you shared in your post. Have a happy and creative June!

Denise Covey said...

Thanks Fundy Blue. I wish you the same.

Steven Arellano Rose Jr. said...

I've always believed that, as helpful as they are and I do read them, you cannot get your writing craft right simply by following a craft book. We have to write and write much and write what we feel is important and expresses our perspectives and ideas. We learn best by doing.

Denise Covey said...

I definitely agree re the craft books and we learn by doing.

Nilanjana Bose said...

I am sorry that Michael's in such a situation. I loved the excerpts that I read. It's disheartening to have to choose between rewriting or abandoning any work.

Nevertheless, I do believe nothing goes waste. He will be able to use the experience, if not the exact words, somewhere down the line though it mayn't seem like that now.

Denise Covey said...

I'm sure he will, Nila. He's shared some thoughts with me to that effect.

H.R. Sinclair said...

Alex, that's really cool of the publisher!

H.R. Sinclair said...

I'm not sure what I'm doing here. I'm either double posting or deleting my comment. Hrm.

Toi Thomas said...

Not sure what happened. I was typing and then it went away. In any case, I wanted to say thanks for stopping by my blog and sorry for the late reply. I have been working on rewrites for ages. Hopefuly the effort pays off at some point. I read Fast and Furious Love Hurts but somehow missed the others. I'd love to check out the Halloween one.

Denise Covey said...

Thanks for coming by Toi. Blogger is messing with comments at the moment. I'll send you the Halloween booklet.