Joe’s Post #177
Is there anything better than falling in love? What about falling in love with your writing? Is that a good thing?
Well, no. No, it’s not.
It’s something I’ve been struggling with as I rewrite my novel, Yager’s War, for submission.
Set in 1940, it tells the story of a Chicago detective in Holland trying to find his missing sister before the Germans invade.
When I first wrote it, it had more of a mystery feel. Dead bodies. Gun battles. Lots of tough guy talk. Some hot sex. But from my writing group and my dedicated readers, it became clear that I needed to shift it a bit, and focus on the humanity of the story. Less Jack Reacher and more Gorky Park.
Why? Because I’m trying to write a deeper story. A story with emotional weight.
I spent a TON of time reworking my first 50 pages to see if I could hit this goal, and after many tears, much staring off into space, and a lot of bugging a published writer friend of mine, I think I finally got the right feel to the story. Good pacing. Some heart. Compelling characters in a compelling story.
For most of 2017, I’ve been hard at work recrafting the rest of the novel to be as good as those first 50 pages. It’s been hard and, frankly, a lot of the novel has been totally rewritten. It’s sort of like doing a kitchen renovation where all you want to do is replace the sink and end with redoing the counters, cabinets, floors, lights and adding a 75” TV, cuz every kitchen should have one.
But perhaps the toughest part has been letting go of some of my best writing. There was one scene that I loved. I loved writing it the first time. I loved reading it the second time. And the third.
It was powerful. It was emotional. Hell, I think I even gotz all the grammar right.
But here’s the horrible truth, a truth that we writers must face sometimes.
It no longer works.
The story has evolved in such a way that this beautifully written passage was no longer relevant.
It’s very sad.
It was hard to let it go.
But then I remembered what someone told me about letting go of things I’d collected in my house. You know, the sentimental things – the ashtray that my mom used to use, the chair my grandfather made that was now nearly in tatters, the 10,000 VCR tapes that I’d collected over the years… the things to which you attach memories, the things that have meaning but take up an awful lot of space and you no long need.
Well, someone said take a picture of those items so you’ll always have the memory. And, you know what? That worked like a charm. A friend saved me from being a hoarder.
So I applied the same principal to that nice bit of writing. I didn’t take a picture of it, but cut it out of the story and pasted it into a file called, “Things Joe Can’t Delete but Loves.” Like my original Sim City from, like, 1989 which hides somewhere in my computer games file.
Doing this allows me to move on.
In my mind, I imagine my kids looking at this after I die and saying, my goodness, Joe REALLY could write. Who knew?
Rest in Peace, Good Writing.
Rest in Peace.