Today I hit pause on the new writing, and went back to look at what I had intended when I started Cate the Curst. Oh, sweet, naive me from April of 2020. This story is so not that story. I may still someday go back and write that story, but we’ve gone too far to get it back now.
I’ve been struggling with getting started on the revision process for a while. I don’t want to write a second draft. It sounds too much like starting over, again. (I am practically the queen of starting things – lots of things, all at once – and not following through. I have Big Ideas. Everything else is details-to-be-determined-later. Drafting isn’t a fun new idea though. It’s the same idea. Been-there-done-that.) But the book is not done just because the first draft is complete. Something has to happen here.
I did revise the first six-or-so chapters several times as I was building the rest of the draft, so it feels pretty strong. I know that it’s not, but the feeling is difficult to get past.
So I procrastinated.
I listened to some podcasts. I read some Facebook group threads. I read through the pamphlets that came in my first box from Scribbler.
I used some of the ideas from those sources to start a rough plot breakdown for Cate 2. It seemed so much more functional and logical, and internally consistent than what I had done before that I then went back and created a(nother) new planning doc for Cate 1. I aligned a timeline I’d drawn up with a five-act format. (Worked for Shakespeare, right?) I thought about how scripts work, and how tv shows are paced. When I had everything reorganized around 12 chapters and three plots, it was much easier to see where some things had gotten lost, or been dropped all together. I saw connections that hadn’t been made clear in the draft, and I saw things that needed to be moved around to give other things space to breathe.
I actually got a little excited about fixing it. Which feels much more comfortable to me. I’m not rewriting. I’m fixing what’s broken. And that is something I excel at. (I know it’s really the same thing, but it feels like a different task, and that’s enough to get me working for now.)
Then I got lucky and got two random, wonderful strangers on the internet to read through the first three chapters and give me some honest feedback. (And I only had to revise the post request for violating membership policies once! The Kindle Vella groups on FB are an excellent source of anecdotal evidence, cheerleading, writing advice, publishing advice, and story links. The trick is keeping straight which group is meant to serve which purpose, and how they have agreed to go about it. Ultimately they’re all following some version of Wheaton’s Law, but it doesn’t hurt to review the actual guidelines before you post to avoid inadvertently offending someone (what defines “self-promotion” is particularly inconsistent from group to group – but very clearly delineated within each group).)
Everything they said felt perfectly true, in a why-didn’t-I-see-the-forest-for-the-trees kind of way. They completely justified everything I had decided to change when I created the new outline, and gave me the why for the things I knew weren’t working.
So, now I’m getting back to work. I have an exciting new project after all.
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