Rewriting your Draft Novel: Surviving the Rewrite or Can Frustration Lead to Death?

24 Jul

It was just a bad day, okay? Not the end of the world, really.

It was just a bad day, okay? Not the end of the world, really.

Blogging the rewrite of my novel,  Mogollon:

Yesterday morning I woke up with a red hot love scene from Mogollon raging in my brain. I’m rewriting my manuscript and realized what I’d written previously was NOT ENOUGH. The scene demanded fleshing out, so to speak. I piled down the stairs full of enthusiasm, the words crackling through my synapses. I pulled up the Word file and sat with my fingers poised over the keys, ready to let ‘er rip.

I heard my husband on the phone in his office. He was using his business voice.

“I’ll get her. She’s right here.”

No. I’m not right there. I’m busy. Not available.

But it was our distributor. She needed a forty word description of my award winning book, Numenon, to go to Ingram NOW. (Ingram is one of major book wholesalers and our entree in to bookstores.) I’d known about the need for the synopsis, but I’d forgotten. OMIGOD. I jumped onto that task, love scene pushed into the background. (This is the joy of independent publishing: You get to do it all.)

In many ways, describing a book in 40 words is harder than writing it in 100,000.

Some time and many versions later, I zapped the thing off to her. While I worked, my husband asked our distributor why Barnes & Noble (corporate) said we aren’t in their system. The distributor said we are, and gave us some tips about approaching the corporation for a broader relationship.

“Write a one page letter of intent and a one page marketing plan, send that and your marketing marterials to their corporate headquarters.” (Those materials are a “one sheet” and some other pretty stuff. A press kit. Things that took many hours of work to create.)

Mark Twain once said, “I sat down and wrote you a long letter. I didn’t have time to write a short one.” Shorter takes much more effort. I wonder if he ever wrote a one page marketing plan?

“I can’t do it NOW!” I shrieked to my husband. “I’m trying to write a love scene!” My steaming characters were about to riot in my head.

I did take time to look at and discovered that both my books are listed there and I have a profile set up already. What was the problem we were having with BN corporate???? Argh. I noticed that has a lot of cool book groups, so I joined a few, then wrote a long introductory post about myself on the Religion & Spirituality group. I unfortunately punched some button and erased the whole thing. Screaming, I rewrote and posted it.

This was on-line marketing, after all, not a bloody waste of time the way it seemed.

It’s hot in California, anywhere but on the beach. You know that, yes? We don’t live on the beach. The thermometer had hit about  100 by this time and my brain went south. I began to obsess on my current life puzzles: Should I divide Mogollon into three normal sized books or should it come out as a phone book sized tome that no one can lift? What should I do to with the rest of my life? Or just that afternoon?

I wrote to my editor. She wants to talk to me. I was losing it, I know.

But not as badly as the lovers in the scene that I didn’t write. If you think I’m frustrated …

I don’t know about other writers, but I tend to turn into Sandrina the Witch at such times and turn my malice on––oh, everyone around, but especially myself.

Snake-eyes, a cow skull painted and decorated by moi.

Snake-eyes, a cow skull painted and decorated by moi. This is one of the things I've done when not writing. That's a California king snake slithering down the skull. Painted version.

So yesterday was a bad day. I wrote one friggin’ paragraph of the love scene before emerging into the light and air of real life and going to a barbecue/concert the local health store puts on every Thursday.

That helped. Seeing people, hearing the tunes, catching the rhythm. Eatin’ the sauce.

Life exists without writing. Professor Leonard Tourney, who led a terrific writing group that I was lucky enough to be art of for  couple of years said words to the effect of: “Not everyone can’t sleep at night because they haven’t been published.” Or have been published and are trying to do it again.

It takes a special kind of person to be that nutty.

If you’re as frustrated as your characters, take a hike. Get some air. Write about it tomorrow. Which is today. Now.

Sayonara, amigos and amigas.

Sandy Nathan

No Responses to “Rewriting your Draft Novel: Surviving the Rewrite or Can Frustration Lead to Death?”

  1. Karen Steward July 24, 2009 at 8:15 pm #

    Is it okay to laugh? I hope. Because, I am. I hope your characters got their act back together (after the barbeque/concert, of course).

  2. admin July 24, 2009 at 8:24 pm #

    The characters are still smoking. Pass the sauce!

  3. Gary Val Tenuta July 24, 2009 at 11:50 pm #


    If you’d have been on a deserted island, all by yourself, it wouldn’t have made any difference. No sooner would you have propped yourself in front of the keyboard, fingers poised to begin writing that delicious love scene, than sure enough a boat load of contestants for Survivor would have sailed up onto the beach, camera crews would have been setting up equipment all over the place, the producers would be knocking on the door of your hut asking if they could rent your place to shoot a scene and you (being the kind hearted soul that you are) would have agreed only to learn later that someone had tipped over a flaming torch, thus setting your little hut on fire and melting your computer in the process. 🙂

  4. admin July 25, 2009 at 8:43 am #

    Actually, though. We don’t have TV out here (by choice), so when they showed up, I would have thought that I MADE THEM UP, written down what they said, submitted it somewhere and been (1) rejected, as is the way of the world, or (2) sued for plagiarism or worse.

    Good thing my computer got burned up!

    Thanks Gary! You’re a trip!