Monday, May 11, 2009

That Gut Feeling

I am a fan of the gut feeling. I love that somehow, my gut knows whether something is right or not. Does my gut have the instincts of a snarky editor? Perhaps. What I do know is that there are parts of my first book that I've always known in my gut didn't work.

I've just completed my 6th complete rewrite. Why have I done this? Well, because my head couldn't figure out what had my gut so unhappy. I've known there was something wrong since the beginning. I've had many, many readers go through and point out things that need to be fixed and every time it has gotten better... but my gut still wasn't happy. I added characters, cut characters, added scenes, cut scenes--all to no avail. Still I got only unsatisfied grumblings in response.

I am here to say, that finally, with this sixth rewrite. My gut has been satiated, and I can comfortably say that I've never been happier with the results of a rewrite. It transformed this book and I love it. Here are a few things I've realized.

1 - Although my readers have had many fabulous suggestions, and improved the book in ways I'd never considered--I was the one who finally solved the problem in the last rewrite. I knew the answer, I just had to be ready to do it.

2 - I don't resent having to do so many rewrites to get it right and this is why. I don't consider that I have fixed one problem at a time from one book. I consider that I've fixed one problem at a time from all of my books. I won't make the same mistakes again, and if I do, I will recognize them before I make it all the way through. I'm not saying I'll never have to rewrite books in the future, I'm saying that with each one I will grow and learn different things, but I'm grateful for the things I've learned with this book.


So, to all of you out there doing miserable rewrite after miserable rewrite--listen to your gut. It knows more than it lets on and it's almost always right.

My gut and I will rest well tonight. :D

13 comments:

  1. Isn't it amazing how, if we just listen to our instincts, we can pinpoint our manuscript problems? So glad you got things worked out.
    :-)

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  2. I've only recently started to trust my gut. I really do think it's the only way to go, but it's scary to do something that doesn't immediately seem logical or orderly. I'm so happy for you, Jenn! I'm glad you worked it out. If you ever want to get more specific about what you changed, I'd love to hear it.

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  3. Awesome post! And #2 is soooooo true. I just shelved my first MS after something like 12 re-writes. I still love it, but I don't think it'll sell...at least not as a debut novel.

    BUT...I've learned sooo much, and now that I've started a new novel, I can already tell that it is many, many times stronger than that first one! I'm glad spent so much time working and learning on it!

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  4. It's wonderful to hear how happy you are with your manuscript now. And to say you love your book is great! Having confidence in your book when you're sending it out to try to get published is such a helpful thing. So is knowing you did your best and were pleased with the outcome.

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  5. I can't wait until that restful feeling comes. I'm close but not quite there.

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  6. Thanks Melissa!

    Davin - Each rewrite helped a ton and changed a lot. The most recent one involved me taking a character that didn't come in until the end and bringing him in at the beginning, making them a little older, allowing some romance (I didn't want any before), and not being afraid to go a little dark. I also ended up taking out some characters that weren't necessary to the plot in this story. It was extensive, but I love it.

    Kathleen - I actually put this one away for awhile and started working on a second. It was SO much easier and it gave me the courage to come back and finally fix the first one. :)

    Cindy - I didn't feel this way before, but I'm really excited to hear back from people now. I am confident it is a good book. :)

    Patti - You'll get there! Just keep trying!

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  7. Jenn, that's so great that you've finally figured out what your gut knew all along. I've had the same things going on. Rewrite-city over here.

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  8. Yay! You're gut is happy!! It should be. Your rewrite is awesome! And you are so right, only you can fix your MS. By the way, I love the picture of your boys. That is the cutest story about the plant and the bugs!

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  9. Thanks for the update, Jenn! I really love it when you can move the story thread and suddenly five different things snap into place. My mouth is watering just thinking of it!

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  10. Cool. The power of the gut. Very nice!

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  11. Jenn, so happy you listened to the gut and were ready to do its bidding. Congrats! (I agree, Mz. Gutt ain't wrong very often, if ever.) :)

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  12. DANG IT!! I guess I really do need to start my rewrite over again. I have been thinking about something in my book that would change my characters ALOT! It's been hard to make this change because I'm not sure which version is my gut and which isn't. Was it my gut that wrote the first 3 versions or my gut telling me change it?? I'm still not sure, but I guess I start my new rewrite and see what happens.

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  13. I am inspired by your dedication to figure out the cause upsetting your gut.

    BTW I wanted to let you know that I'm passing on the Lovely Blog Award to you. To learn more you can visit my post at www.seriouslyamberlynae.blogspot.com

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