Tuesday 29 July 2008

Rewriting, Rewriting, Everyone's Rewriting

How odd. Nobody says anything about rewriting novels for what seems like ages and then ... three come along at once!

Sarwat Chadda, whose novel The Devil's Kiss won a slot in SCBWI's Undiscovered Voices anthology, blogs about the shredding, the rewriting, and the rewriting again that his novel has undergone since he wrote a first version in 2004:
What I'm trying to say is really, it's a LONG LONG slog, and I'm still working on my first book. And my book's pretty short. I would also reckon I'm pretty fortunate in that the agent and book deal came pretty quickly-ish (looking back it seems like things were always moving forward, so that was encouraging).
Libba Bray (A Great and Terrible Beauty) likens the process of rewriting to a love affair that starts thus:
I love this book. And it loves me. I never want to be without this book. Never, ever. What? Were you saying something? I'm sorry I can't hear you because my book just said the best thing ever. Wait--just listen to this sentence. I know! Isn't my book so dreamy? I love you, book. Do you love me? Of course you do. OMG--we said that at the SAME TIME! WE ARE SO IN TUNE! This is going to be the best book ever written. Oh, whisper that again. I Pulitzer you too, honey. Sigh.
And ends up (as deadline looms):
F*@*#&ing book. I hate you. I wish I'd never met you. YOU MAKE MY LIFE HELL! HELL! I wish there were another word for hell but my thesaurus says there's not. My mother was right. I should never have gotten involved with you. God, what was I thinking starting up something with this book? Jesus. Did you hear that? Do you ever even listen to what you spew all over the page? God. Like freaking nails being driven into my eardrums and right into my brain. Miserable craptard. I wish you'd die.
Read Libba's entire post and weep (with laughter).

Libba points to Justine Larbalestier (Magic or Madness) whose moods turn on what sort of writing day she has had:
We writers are a neurotic whingey bunch. When we are in that kind of state it’s best not to remind us that the day before we thought it was the best book ever written. All you can do is nod and smile and make sympathetic noises and offer us food or liquid we find particularly comforting.

Only when we’ve calmed down is it safe to mention that we have expressed similar sentiments in the past. That, in fact, we have said the exact same thing about every book we’ve ever written. And yet we managed to finish those books without the world ending.
I myself have pressed 'send' on revisions twice this month (and the month isn't even over yet!).

It becomes clear that the revision process is just like history and nagging mothers.

It repeats itself.


  1. Can't believe I used the word 'pretty' three times in one sentence!
    I suppose that demonstrates why rewriting is so crucial.
    Hope my editor isn't reading this...

  2. just goes to show how good i am at rewriting ... didn't notice the 'pretty' in triplicate!

    the best advice to revisers comes from Dory in Finding Nemo: "just keep swimming, just keep swimming ..."

  3. Just found this quote from Winston Churchill on the Writers Services website: "Writing a book is an adventure. To begin with, it is a toy and an amusement. Then it becomes a mistress, then it becomes a master, then it becomes a tyrant. The last phase is that just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster, and fling him to the public."


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