I finished rewriting my novel last week. The elation and relief! I looked back over my blog posts and saw that I’d started rewriting it in early June last year, so it took me nearly nine months to complete. I won’t reiterate how hard I found it at times and how many times I thought about shelving it. For good.
My writing group has read each section as I’ve completed it, and to be able to send the final chapters to them was a reward in itself. To draw the line on it and say, This is it. This is the story. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, nothing and no one will make me rewrite it again.
So I printed it out, sat down with my red pen, and started to read it from beginning to end. I’m always amazed by how quickly I forget my own words and at times I was surprised by what I’d written. Usually pleasantly. I actually enjoyed the first 100 pages.
Then I hit a boring patch. That happens, I told myself and kept reading. However, by about page 150 things still hadn’t picked up, and I knew that if I’d been a reader seeing it for the first time, I’d have put it down and not picked it up again.
Feeling rather deflated, I slept on it, then read the same pages again the next morning. I still hated them.
I wrote in my journal:
‘I don’t know if all writers feel like this about their work, but right now, I hate mine. I don’t know if it’s because I’m sick of the sight of it, sick of the characters, and sick of the story because I know it so well and it bores me. Whether it’s that, or whether it really is shit and I’ve just spent the last five years writing something that no one will want to read, I don’t know. I was hoping to read and love my own novel. Maybe it’s that we get so far in amongst the trees that we can’t see the forest. Maybe I’ve just lost perspective. Maybe that’s all it is. I hope so.’
I hoped it was just that I was sick to death of my own words, but something told me it wasn’t. So, I did what I always do when I have a sinking feeling in my belly—I took my dogs and the camera and set off for a long walk. I was on my way back when the answer hit me: It’s the voice. The voice is missing.
The plot, the characters, everything else was there—I’d just lost my narrator’s voice. I’d written these scenes a couple of years’ ago when I didn’t know as much as I do now and when I’d been concentrating on getting the story down. I’d shaped them and got them so they told a story and continued the plot, but I’d forgotten to tell them in the voice of my narrator, and the scenes were boring without her unique perspective and her way of telling a story.
So, in that short walk I went from hating my novel and feeling as though I’d wasted the last few years working on it, to itching to get back and fix it up. Walking is good like that.
Meanwhile, the rest of my life hasn’t stopped just because I’m trying to finish a novel: we have a house renovation starting tomorrow. It will involve demolition of a couple of walls and cooking with camping equipment for a few weeks, so please excuse me if I’m not as available online. I’m telling myself it will be worth it in the end, and that at least it will be an experience!
Now for some photos: I took these in the rain last weekend and turned them into black and white. I’ve already shown one for Midweek Moment and in my spiel for that, I commented that the trees looked as if they’d been strung up with fairy lights. I hope these photos have captured some of that magic.
The lake dries out in summer and looks desolate. Especially with a lone ibis standing on a decaying log in the centre:
At the end, I had two very wet, but very happy, canines:
And this New Holland Honeyeater was soaking it up, too: