I’ve been working my tuchus off on the novel lately, which means everything else–short pieces, genealogy, my children–have been taking a back seat to my characters Rose and Dottie. But over the long weekend, I finished my last rewrite (only took six months!) and I’ve sent it off to my readers to get feedback. It’s a nerve-wracking process, waiting for the responses, but it’s what I need to do. While what I really want is to simply fire it off to my agent and say, “Here it is!” that would be fool hardy as it needs to be in the best shape possible before she reads it. Oh, she’ll have edits and feedback no matter what–her eye is so well honed she things that everyone else misses. But I still need to think it’s the best it can be before she sees it.
Rewriting is always laborious. I changed my novel from third person to first person, and alternated the chapters between the two characters. A lot of folks, when I mention this, think this is just a matter of changing “she” to “I,” but it’s significantly more complex. It means adding more interior thought, which adds to changes in the characters, which means addition of new scenes and deletion of the old scenes. I was having trouble in the beginning figuring out how it would all work, so I went old school with a poster board taped to my closet door with a bunch of Post-It notes to plot out my scenes. (The two colors represent the two characters.)
The story still varied from this (notice even here there were some plot holes), but having a starting point to which I could refer back gave me a grounding. I’m amazed at how much has changed in this version. It’s funny, when I thought I had finished it before, I really believed it was the best it could be. Now I look at it and think, “Wow, it’s so much better!”
But now I’m slightly adrift. I have a window of about a month to give myself breathing room while I wait for others to comment. I’ve asked folks to get me feedback by the end of February. Which means I can catch up on all the non-novel writing I need to do (an article for a local organization, blurbs for the school auction, a short essay I started seven months ago), as well as have a small amount of time for organizing all the stuff that went untouched during the rewriting process.
And now, I twiddle my thumbs and wait. And wait. And wait. Is it the end of February yet?