With the new year, I’ve been thinking a lot about starting over. Starting over is hard to do because it feels too much like failure. As a writer, I expect myself to be so brilliant I get the book right the very first draft. How silly is that? I know writing books is more about rewriting, honing, tightening, and bringing clarity and unity to the work. I know that few published books (if any) make it through without a lot of hard work and editing. But the truth is I am lazy.
I have a book I have been working on much too long. I even put it away for a couple of years because it felt dead-ended. But I love the concept and the characters, and the story keeps taunting, “Do the work. Do the work.” Because, you see, the easy part is done. I have my characters, I have my location. I have a high concept. But what I don’t have is a convincing story. I haven’t learned how to connect the dots so this story sings.
When I shopped this book a few years ago, I received many favorable comments, but the book just wasn’t ready. An agent that I respect said I could write well, but I didn’t know what my story was.
Maybe she was right. Or maybe I just didn’t do a good enough job of telling my story. So today I begin the long journey of beginning again. I’ll dig out the old character sketches, and create new ones. I’ll rethink goals and motivation. Today I’ll bite the bitter bullet, and with any luck and a lot of hard work, I will finally get it right.