This week has been a nightmare. School holidays, massive colds for both children, a broken leg that’s taking ages to get better, and a husband who also has a cold… Argh. Where’s my holiday??
As per usual I want to write and am frustrated by not being able to. Also frustrating are the doubt crows circling my desk. Some days I honestly don’t know why I bother to push on. The successes are so few and far between that it seems like a masochist’s game to keep at it.
Anyway, in the interests of keeping up some kind of momentum, and after a bracing round of thumping by the CPs (no, not actual thumping but the online equivalent) I have hauled out an old ms to give it a good going over before sending it out to another publisher. The one I thought I’d work on is one that Harlequin really liked and one I completely and utterly stuffed up the revisions for. 🙁 Hindsight is a bloody awful thing. I haven’t looked at this particular ms for a couple of years because it was the ‘one that could have been’ and that’s kind of painful. It’s one that I did all kinds of things right but because it all happened completely by accident and not intent, I didn’t know what those things were enough to be able to repeat them. In essence, the ms was rejected because my heroine didn’t have enough conflict. They thought she was ‘lovely’ and the hero ‘perfect’ but conflict for her? Uh huh.
Getting it out and reading it again was bittersweet. Bitter because of all the ‘what ifs’. What if I had known what I was doing? What if I’d managed to rewrite it better? What if I’d really understood what the problem was? And sweet because, you know, it’s STILL a pretty good story. At least, even two years later and having learned all that I learned, I think it works.
But the problem? Oy! I saw it immediately in the first chapter where I had written ‘she just wanted to be accepted for who she was’. Now that right there is the heroine’s character arc. And it should be what she realises at the mid-point of the story or even towards the end, not what she understands in the first chapter! Can anyone say too self aware??? And that, in a nutshell, is why she didn’t have any conflict. Because where else can she go from there? What more can she learn about herself? If she knew she just wanted to be accepted for who she was, then why didn’t she go and do something about it? Why did I make her pretend to be someone else? Characters are supposed to think they’re fine at the beginning of the book and part of their journey is figuring out they’re not as fine as they think they are. At least, that’s what I’ve been taught about character arc.
I guess the good thing about this is that the rewriting is not nearly as bad as I thought it would be. I just have to make her less self aware. I have to make her think she’s fine as she is. She doesn’t need acceptance, pshaw, what a silly thing to think, etc, etc. Oh yes and need to beef up her actual conflict (because she actually did have some, it just wasn’t very clear). And then…then I guess I will have to think about subbing it. Somewhere.
Anyone else hauled out an old piece of writing? Was it as bad as you thought? (c’mon, we ALL think that right?) Or were you pleasantly surprised?