Today, I’m beginning a monumental task. What better day to do it than a Tuesday, yes? Yes.
Today, I am beginning a rewrite of ‘Tider’. I’m sure y’all will remember me talking about this poor, long-neglected novel of mine, which I started last year and thought I’d finished in January of this year. You may also remember the near meltdown that engulfed me in the latter stages of said novel, and you may (or, probably, may not) have been wondering why I’ve been so quiet about it ever since.
Well. The reason is this.
Writing ‘Eldritch’ has given me a huge insight into the kind of writer I want to be. Writing ‘Eldritch’ has shown me that I really truly do love children’s books, and that while I love reading YA books, I’m not terribly good at writing them – at least, not at the moment. In the current version of ‘Tider’, my main character is in her mid-teens, and there’s a love interest, and she’s awkwardly finding out about her feelings for this love interest while simultaneously trying to save her family, and quite possibly the world, from destruction; I realise now that the love interest was superfluous – at least, as far as I’m concerned. The important thing about the story was the character, her family, and her love for them. In short, ‘Tider’ – in its current form – is a children’s book trying to be a YA book.
My original idea for ‘Tider’ involved my main character and her best friend going off on an adventure in an attempt to save the life of the best friend’s father, and unwittingly getting involved in a situation much bigger than either of them could have imagined, which leaves the fate of the world at stake. In the course of the book, the characters would be faced with hard choices, about their families and also about their friendship, and my MC and her own father would be set on a collision course due to his unwillingness to help them in their quest. For some reason, this became a story about a girl rebelling against her father and wanting to find out the truth about her mother, getting involved in a vigilante group and falling in love with one of its ringleaders, who then go on to try to take her father out of business (because his ‘business’ is illegal and immoral and wrong, something the MC gradually comes to see.) You might also remember that ‘Tider’ was far too long – somewhere in the region of 150,000 words, which is lunacy – and the time and effort that would be involved in taking it as it is and editing it down to a manageable size would, I feel, be better spent in ‘simply’ rewriting the book completely.
I’m being very calm about this, all things considered.
Over the past few days and weeks, the idea for ‘Tider’ Mk. II has been taking shape in my head. I think I have a first page, and a first chapter, and a revised structure – basically, the plot is the same but without some of the more complicated subplots and, of course, the romance element – and, really, all I’m doing is going back to my original plan for the book. In a way, I feel it’s been a long, painful, but necessary process.
I do wish, sort of, that I’d been able to come to this conclusion without all the stress and sweat and panic and hard work, but then, that’s what learning is all about, isn’t it?
Things I have learned from this process:
If you’re struggling – to the point of tears – with a book, then take a step back and reassess it. If it’s not working, it may not be anything you’re doing wrong. It may just be not working.
If you’re panicking about your book, and plot twists or ‘patches’ or ideas are coming to you at a crazy pace, and when you work them into your book and they fix something for a while but cause you bigger problems later on, don’t just leave them there. Go back over what you’ve done, and calmly, rationally unpick it, and see if there’s something better you can do.
If you’re not enjoying the writing – with the caveat that, of course, writing is work, and hard work, and should be challenging – then something may be slightly off-kilter. Again, take some time to think and reassess and, perhaps, take a complete break from what you’re doing for a while.
Do not set yourself minimum word limits every day. Do not force yourself to reach 5,000 words, or 6,000 words, or 7,000 words… every day, just write the amount of words you can write, and be happy with that.
If you’re really not getting anywhere with a project, start something else; come back to the first project when you’re ready.
So. Wish me luck? And, I hope, if you’re having trouble with a piece you’re working on, that you’ll take heart from my struggle and realise nothing is too difficult to overcome.
Right. I’m setting phasers to ‘Write’. See you all tomorrow!