Monday, July 30, 2007

Be Careful What You Wish For...

Remember my last, dreamy post in mid-June where I was talking about how doing a rewrite made me feel "like a real writer at last"? Well, I'm ruing the day I ever uttered those fateful words.

I finished the rewrite for Summer On Lake Tulaby in a record-setting two weeks, thinking of pretty much nothing else in the time I wasn't at work or in family-related activities. When I finished it, I breathlessly turned it in to the agent, David F. He read it...and said that while I'd made the manusript "a million times better" in the rewrite, he still thought that the story needed to have a focus: one primary female character with whom the audience could 'connect'. Daringly, knowing he was hundreds of miles away in a nice, safe office in NYC, he proposed that I consider another rewrite, reducing the role of one of the existing male characters and writing in an entirely new character .

As I was wondering where I might locate a sword with which to commit hari kari, David managed to hook me by suggesting that the character be a psychologist like me. In the course of our discussion, the character reather quickly began to take shape in my mind and by the time I got off of the phone I'd actually forgotten about the disembowelment thing. It felt like maybe, just maybe, I could find the energy and the motivation to take on another rewrite of my 376 page novel.

As fate would have it, around the same time Andrew Karre from Flux (my publisher for The Other Sister) read my National Write A Novel In A Month manuscript and said that he thought it could make a very nice YA novel. This comment was a little surprising to me since I thought it already WAS a very nice YA novel. But no... Andrew felt it read more like a middle grade novel, or, worse, an "old fashioned YA novel." Unfortunately, this kind of made sense: I admitted to Andrew that the last YA novels I read were published somewhere during the 70's.

Shaking his head, I'm sure, Andrew gave me a reading list of contemporary YA novels, all of which I immediately read, and I have to say that I could immediately see his point. My characters needed to be smarter and edgier, maybe even to swear or make out a little (much more than that went on in the books Andrew suggested I read, but I'm not willing to go THAT far!)

So here I am, working on two complete rewrites simultaneously. It feels very much like unraveling and re-knitting two very complicated sweaters; I feel like I'm tangled in words, reforming a collar into to a sleeve or moving a back to a front, and trying to weave in entirely new elements to boot. Prior to this, the most complicated thing I've ever knitted was a stocking cap shaped like a Christmas tree,... I'm not sure whether either product will be wearable in the end, but I'm hoping so! Stay tuned; in the next installment I may have abandoned writing entirely and taken up bricklaying.

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