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Almost four months ago, I embarked on a journey to write a full first draft in five days. I thought that was the craziest I would ever get.
But then I started the re-write for the book.
It began by running to Starbucks on my lunch hours from work. I’d order a passion iced tea lemonade and furiously embark on the re-write for an hour straight. Once it was over I’d hurriedly return to my desk, armed with a laptop and a smile, cackling all the while because hey: I had a big shiny dream after all, while other people just had…lunch. And friends.
Maybe I have a couple of friends as well, I’ve just been ignoring them for two weeks straight…sorry.
Back to my tale…a series of lunch hours does not a re-write make; I needed more.
And so, as the sun would set and normal people embarked on filthy bedroom deeds and/or watching “Dancing with the Stars” (which in my opinion is the filthiest assault on one’s soul), I would only just begin my re-writing journey into the night. On the most significant of these nights, I cracked open a can of Red Bull at ten p.m. (on a weeknight, mofos!), preparing myself to go ”balls to the wall” (I really hope that expression doesn’t mean anything in literal terms, otherwise there are some walls out there that need a serious washing).
I was approaching the thick of my book now, which was unfortunately the part that needed the most serious re-write. My ego would have told me to leave everything as it was, but when you’re fortunate enough to have the smartest story editor in the world at your fingertips, it’s important to listen to their critical feedback.
So fine, my ego was hung out to dry, which meant I seriously had to dive back in…back to the disturbing past which inspired so much of this story. I thought I’d left all that behind in the raw first draft, but if you really commit to a re-write, you’ll know you’re not just “massaging” existing scenes, you’re hacking things apart and asking yourself to make more. This can be especially tricky on the heart, when you’re treading the fine line between reality and fiction.
For most people like me who have written a story that’s inspired by real life, you can understand the emotional regression that occurs when you dig up the past for the creation of art; how it inaccurately glorifies people from way back when, how it makes you wonder if there’s any way to turn it all around for a second chance, how it frustrates you to Hell and back to know you’re not Marty McFly from “Back to the Future,” which means you can’t go back in time to be in love with a younger version of your mother (or something)…well it’s not healthy…to say the least.
In the harshest cases, it’s extremely harmful to a writer’s emotional health to do a re-write from the heart, but we do it anyway, because even if a story is centered around talking dinosaurs or a zombie apocalypse, it still has to forfeit some pieces of the author’s soul, otherwise how will it ever truly connect with a reader? (I’m lookin’ at you, “Twilight”…just kidding, I’ve never even read “Twilight.” It could be Pulitzer-worthy material for all I know).
So I blocked out the world, and with the totally psychotic wings that Red Bull pinned on my back…I went there.
After a few hours of intense cutting of scenes then adding different much-improved scenes (let’s hope), I was too screwed up to continue, or at least I couldn’t continue until I had a little break to express myself as me, the writer. So here, written at two a.m. one night, is the raw and uncut psychotic break:
(I just had to leave this story for a bit, and I can’t stand to open another Word document, so I’m writing this here in the book within parentheses, because parentheses excuse all.
I wonder what would happen if I accidentally left this in the book…or dare I leave it in on purpose? Maybe it could be a new style of writing a novel, like a novel with commercial breaks. Would readers be okay with that? Even if I charmingly described the benefits of a new kind of tampon? Would they find it intrusive? Should I add diagrams? I don’t know…I feel like commercials in books would be a brand new invention I could make millions off of. In which case, I should totally remove this ”book interruption” from the final version and keep the idea to myself.
I don’t know why but this book commercial innovation reminds me of Facebook, which is about to go public in just a few days. I still have no idea how Facebook makes money, because I’m pretty sure I’ve never clicked on one of those ads that asks me if I’m interested in getting rid of my ”unsightly chin fat.” And yes, that was an actual ad. PS Facebook ad: can’t you see my damn profile picture? My chin fat is under control, thank you very much. Anyway back to Facebook: so apparently that Latin co-founder of Facebook just renounced his US citizenship so he doesn’t have to pay $600 million in taxes…? I’m all for capitalism, but if you’re set to pay $600 million in taxes, that means you made a shit-ton of money too, more than you could ever spend. Besides which, umm HELLO, isn’t the US the very country that harboured you while you were a high-value child-sized kidnapping target for Brazilian drug lords? Or something? If I ever go to Singapore where you’re hiding, you Facebook co-founder man, I will definitely remember to call you a dick.
Also…sometimes I wonder how many potential husbands I missed out on by writing books. Just as an aside.
Also, am I supposed to read “Fifty Shades of Grey” now? Is that like a cultural movement or something? Is it okay if I choose not to read it out of spite, because I don’t like being told what should entertain me? (see earlier comment on “Twilight.”))
There were some additional garbled comments but I’ll leave it there.
It’s pretty clear then, that there are two sides to every re-write:
-The side where you get back into character to make a better story, and the flip-side result where you turn into a bit of an emotionally-stunted fuck-up
With that I say: happy re-writing times to all! The more we re-write, the more we keep psychiatrists like Niles and Frasier Crane in business.
PS: The re-write is done and I’m almost there, with just two and a half weeks left until “Last-Minute Love” releases! (which is hopefully soon enough so that I won’t end up needing a straitjacket)