I am editing. Again.
In April I submitted my synopsis and first five chapters to a publisher (Strange Chemistry, whose blog is great if you’re interested), as they were holding an ‘Open Door’ submission period.
A couple of days ago I emailed them to ask if they could ignore that submission. It never happened.
You see, Watching may have been a sixth draft, but I don’t think it was ready even to be considered for publication.
My main reason for thinking this was that I recently finished writing a second draft of ‘Destroying’, the sequel, which was necessary due to changes I had made in book one, and also to reflect the improvement in my writing ability since last July.
However, I had other reasons. Cathryn, my writer buddy / crit partner / editor / whatever she’d like to be called, has been wonderful about giving me feedback, not just in the form of line-edits but also asking me about various aspects of voice, pacing and continuity.
And she pointed out a chapter that was choppy, that didn’t work, that seemed too fast. She pointed out that one character’s voice didn’t work (because I hadn’t learned how he spoke yet). She pointed out some things that needed changing.
I realised then that I couldn’t go on rewriting it chapter by chapter, keeping the same plot and structure and just improving the little things like voice or general readability.
It needed work.
Watching was structurally unsound.
Let me tell you a bit about this novel. I started writing it in January of 2010, but put it away at the end of the month and forgot about it. At the end of April, I found it again, and started working on it, though I had no recollection of where I’d been planning to go with the plot I’d got so far. By the end of May or the beginning of June, I had a first draft.
Over the following two years I redrafted it several times, including completely rewriting the plot of the second half on three occasions and reworking characterisation from the very beginning once (which formed the sixth draft). It was read by several of my friends, including one who loved it, one who was upset because I killed the character who looked like him, one who was astounded at my writing ability, and one who hated my characters and wanted them to die (she prompted one of those rewrites).
During this time I’ve also worked on multiple novels, so this has been by no means solid.
You’d think if I wasn’t happy with it by now, I’d throw it out and work on something else entirely. And there’s the thing – I’m not prepared to let go of it yet.
I know when my work is bad. I’ve chucked out all sorts of drafts, whether hard copies or digital. I’ve rewritten things and cut scenes I loved and I have completely destroyed various stories trying to fix them.
Watching is flawed.
But I fell in love with the characters. I’m prouder of the sequel than I’ve got any right to be of a second draft. There are some scenes in there that I know are the most emotional I’ve ever written, that I know will leave any sane person in tears because they killed me the seventh time I wrote them.
I am not ready to write it off as hopeless.
So yesterday I drafted a new opening, and hated it. I tried again. It was like digging a tunnel through concrete with a teaspoon, but I wrote another thousand words. And hated it.
That second attempt, though, that’s interesting. Every single one of the six and a half drafts I wrote before opened in Jennie’s POV, and that last one was Alex’s.
And then last night when I was shattered and just collapsing into bed, I remembered a question that Cathryn had asked me about how a particular thing worked. Actually, she was making fun of a funny way I’d phrased it. But I thought to myself, “If I answer that question, I know how to start this.”
It was midnight and I’d been looking for that opening since 4pm.
I tried drafting it and hey, it’s still like digging a tunnel through concrete with a teaspoon. But I have a feeling that my characters are digging the other way and this time we’re going to meet in the middle.