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My Writer's Journal

On Rewriting

I'm not a good writer. My first drafts are wretched. Not unreadable, really, but not anything you'd actually WANT to read. Honestly. But I fortunately have a very patient editor. She reads what I've sent and after a few weeks, sometimes months, I get a letter that almost always begins the same way: "Dear Carolyn, I have read (fill in the blank) and I love most of what you have written." MOST??? I want her to love all of it! But she does not. It takes me a little while to adjust to this news. I'm always surprised at what she doesn't love. I feel wounded. I can't at first imagine how I will ever turn these unloved pages into something we can both live with.

But here's the good news: I am a very good REwriter. I catch on fast. Once I get over my injured feelings, I get to work, tear the thing apart, perform major surgery and minor cosmetic facelifts. I obsess over it. I nurse it back to health. I begin to feel hopeful as my wretched draft begins to look and sound good. I read it aloud. Sounds good, too! Maybe it will work.

Last evening, after several weeks of obsessing, waking up in the middle of the night, I finished the rewrite of BEAUTY'S DAUGHTER and sent it off to Editor Julie. Shortly after, I received an email from another editor, forwarding the first review of VICTORIA REBELS, to be published January 1st. "This absorbing, fictionalized first-person of Queen Victoria's early life..." it begins, and goes on, glowingly, from there.
It's good to remember that the early draft of that novel was pretty much of a mess, too.
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