Wednesday, May 18, 2016

That Diving Board Moment

I'm a firm believer that sometimes when you are doing something, you've got to just dive in and do it. Well, that's where I am right now. And much like the way I was when I was a kid diving off a diving board into the deep end, I'm a little scared.

I'm in the midst of a rewrite of the contemporary YA novel I languished on but managed to finish last year and I had a revelation that stopped me dead in my tracks. This happens often to me as I'm writing and it usually takes some time to shake out what caused me to stop. This action happens for an assortment of reasons. Sometimes I realize that I don't have an ending. Sometimes I realize that I need to do something drastic and I don't think I'm ready to do what I need to do. Sometimes I just get stuck and need to walk away from the book for a little while.

The thing about THE SEVEN LABORS OF NICK JABLONSKY is that I don't think it's the thing that's most indicative of what I want to write but it's a story that demanded I write it. It took a long time to write and that's okay, these things happen. As I was writing it, I started to ask questions about it, so I sent part of it off to a beta reader to take a look at it. There were some parts that came across as creepy or unclear and I felt I needed a different set of eyes on it. This has been the first time in almost a year that I'm looking at the book and to be honest, it's not in as bad a shape as I think I thought it was, so I enthusiastically dove into the rewrite. But it wasn't without some moments of doubt. The pause on the high dive before I jumped in. Okay, maybe not doubt but a feeling of what should I do here?

I was thinking about making a major change to this draft right off the bat. I thought about switching it from 1st person past to 1st person present tense, because that seems all the rage lately. I decided against that with the caveat that I could change it if I needed to. (Needed meaning an agent or editor felt the story worked better in 1st person present.) I started with a sledgehammer, combining the first few chapters and cutting some fat at the beginning, then got into a groove. Nora (my beta) had given great notes and I had already cleaned up a lot of what I needed to clean up. The work I needed to do was less sledgehammery and more refinery.  Until I got to what I was writing today. But today's hesitation goes a lot further back than what happened today.

When I first started really writing this, I actually workshopped parts of it at a teacher's writing institute, including the part that I got today, where Nick, the MC and narrator, is talking to Morgan, a girl that he met earlier in the book that he sort of hooks up with right before he meets his present girlfriend. The people reading the section wanted to know more about Morgan and she became a more significant part of the story from that point on. But today's revelation that I came to as I was writing completely changes everything I was doing with the book and it's a big change to make. And all of a sudden, I'm even more excited about this project than I was before about this project.

I conferred with a good friend at work that has read my writing. Not this piece, but he's read my other things. He loved the idea and thought it was brilliant. He was more excited than I was about it.

I've talked before about not being daring about something that could be perceived as difficult or gamechanging, but I think that I'm at that point in the book. I'm about half way through the rewrite and I think it's time to start over, jumping in with this new concept.

If you need my, I'll be at the edge of the diving board, staring down at the pool, ready to jump in.

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