My Secret to Not Quitting—a Post on Writing, Rewriting, and Perseverance
I’ve heard that Writing is Rewriting and it’s also been phrased as Rewriting is Writing. But I don’t think I ever fully comprehended what that concept meant until now.
Rewriting is where all the magick truly happens. But getting there—to the magickal part—isn’t always so pleasant and it’s certainly not at all easy. It requires a tremendous amount of patience and belief in yourself and your story. It requires me to push forward and keep going even when I want to quit, which happens at least once every day.
Right now, even as I’m writing this post, I want to shove every page I’ve written into the shredder and forget that it exists.
The thing is—I can’t allow myself to do this. I’m almost halfway there now. Once I nail the rewrites on Black Satin then I get to torture myself with my new envisioning of Raven in the Grave.
I’m ready to finalize the new version of Pretty in Black, but I can’t yet because I’m battling myself on its completion. There are scenes from the original which I love and want to keep; I’m attached to them, but I know that they have to go. And then there are newer ideas in my head for other scenes, but at some point, I have to let go and allow the story to be. To breathe on its own. There are even a few missing chapters from Marcus’s POV that I haven’t written yet and there are BLANK pages where those chapters will be inserted.
Man, it’s so hectic.
And as I’m rewriting Black Satin there are scenes I’ve invented that I LOVE the hell out of, and then there are scenes from the original that I know I have to slash apart, murder, kill. It’s going to take time to figure out how all the new pieces fit with the older ones and how to weave it seamlessly.
I have to make sure the tone/atmosphere/voice remains the same as the original and that all the elements, whether added or deleted, make sense as a whole, and that the new books are the same, but different at the same time.
I don’t want the story/plot steering too far away from the original story because then things will become way too confusing for everyone who has already read the books so far.
If anything, the new scenes should be icing on the cake and serve as extras so that way all my readers stay on the same page, plot wise. I can’t just start changing everything around. The overall goal when I began this was to flesh everything out—my characters, the plot, the world building, the setting, etc.
Yes, writing has never been more challenging than it is right now for me. And I hate it and love it equally.
But I have a secret—a secret I’ve never shared before until now. It’s the secret of not quitting, and it all begins with a dream I had years ago when I first decided that, yes, I wanted to be a writer.
You see, I pretty much knew at the age of 12 that I wanted to be an author. The burning desire has never left me and I can’t imagine ever wanting to do anything else. But the thing is, I never thought it was possible because I couldn’t write.
Yes, I could write, but not well. Not even good or mediocre. I was worried that my dream of being a writer would never be possible. And then, one night, like any other night, I fell asleep.
I entered a place—I imagine it was a mall, because there were lots of other shops nearby—but on my right, a wall of glass, and books were behind that wall of glass. A bookstore!
It came as no shocker to me that I found myself dreaming of a bookstore, and just like in real life, I was beyond excited to be here. I floated toward the glass door and stepped over into my heaven. A nice and friendly blonde woman greeted me as she led me over to the many shelves and shelves of books, asking me what I liked to read. Of course, my answer was Young Adult.
And Oh! Look at all the pretty covers!! I started grabbing every book off the shelf that caught my eye and the lady laughed.
“Here, let me help you with those.” She smiled and then placed my books in a cart. A shopping cart for books! How genius! Every bookstore needed these, I thought.
I eagerly began flipping through the books, ready to read all the exciting stories inside. But there was only one major problem.
“There aren’t any words in these books,” I complained.
“I know,” she said with a glimmer in her eyes. “You are meant to provide the words; all the books you chose will become every book that you will ever write.”
I couldn’t believe it!
“Really?” I asked.
“Yes,” she said. “And I’m your Muse. I will provide you with everything you need— creativity, inspiration, everything—if you will trust me.”
This was the best dream I’d ever had. And then my Muse and I took a dark detour.
“The trick,” she explained as we climbed the stairs, “is to always imagine the book that you want to read, and then write that book. Stay true to it.”
At the top of the stairs, we entered a glass elevator.
It lifted us incredibly high and then even higher into the air. Way above the bookstore was a graveyard of books—abandoned manuscripts. A devastating place with stacks and stacks of pages yellowed with age, half baked ideas, bleeding words, crumpled to pieces, burned to ashes, caked with dust.
“Why did you bring me here?” I asked.
“You needed to see. Don’t give up. You’ll want to, but don’t ever give up. Books come here to die.”
“Then . . . show me that I am meant to do this.”
Suddenly . . . I was somewhere else. A library? A book signing? Another bookstore? I was unsure. My exact surroundings were unclear.
But here is the part that gets me every time. In the dream, there was a shelf full of my books, side by side, and I lifted one of them, at random, and flipped to a random page and read a small excerpt of the book—The Secret Garden scene from Pretty in Black.
And back in 2011, when I wrote that scene for the very first time in real life, it gave me chills. I had deja vu. I’d read the scene in my dream before I’d ever written it.
All I knew, was that at the end of the dream, I was happy and successful. And I had a lot of books on that shelf. A lot.
My Muse never promised me that this would be easy or that I would get it right the very first time.
But what she did promise me was that I would want to quit and she made me promise her that I wouldn’t. She promised that if I listened to her, to that quiet voice deep down within, that this would happen. It would be real.
And it is sort of real, but it’s not as real as I’d like it to be. It’s not as good as I want it to be. But I know I’m on my way there, because I’m not giving up.
I’ll just take out my red pen and hack it all up again, but I’m not giving up.
I call this place that I visited the Muse Mall because I think all creative people go here—musicians, artists, designers, etc—we all go there, and sometimes, we just don’t know it. I think I got lucky, or that I was blessed to have been able to remember it.
I had that dream sometime between the ages of nineteen and twenty-two and I remember every detail of it.
On some days, it feels like I have more ideas than I can handle, more books that I’m itching to write—ALL of which are blessings, gifts, I can’t complain—but it feels like I’m reliving 2012 while everyone else is moving forward. Thinking about the readers I’m collecting that want to read Evermore and how I’m detaining them from doing that is giving me anxiety.
But every time I want to quit and turn away, I think about those dusty books. I think about the readers who’ve stuck with me through all of this, and I know I can’t let them down. Not now.
This is my journey and it’s imperfectly perfect. Those books are mine and they will be there for me when I’m ready to write them, whether that’s this year, or next year, or ten years from now. I won’t let them end up on the abandoned shelf.
The Muse Mall—a fantastic place we can access in the creative mind. I really do believe we all go there.
All images used in this post are from Pixabay and are released free of copyrights under Creative Commons CC0.