Rewrites are my Kryptonite

I am so afraid of rewrites that I killed my first novel after several editing sessions instead of trying a rewrite. Wow, admitting that is super painful.

Burying that novel was like burying a child. And I have 2 kids, so saying that is no joke. I mourned. I’m still mourning that loss.

Editing doesn’t bother me as much. Tweaking and fixing issues is something I can do. I’m lucky. I had a super awesome English comp 101 teacher in college, who I still quote all the time. (And I don’t usually quote people haha)

But she taught me that editing is writing. If you can’t handle editing, don’t write. It’ll be too torturous.

From what I’ve learned since her class, that makes no sense. Most writers I know hate editing so much they’d rather pay someone to do it for them. But I do agree. My editing skills are what have gotten me as far as I’ve come. I have a publisher, I have 3 books, I have a career.

My acceptance rate is at 28% right now. That’s great. Its been higher, but it’s also been way lower so I’m happy with it. Last week I received a new acceptance for an older storie I’d been waiting to hear back on, along with a rewrite request for another. And they’re both paying gigs. (That makes it even more enticing)

The rewrite is for a flash piece so I agreed. They said it was so close to an acceptance I felt compelled to go for it. I’m learning that because there is less room for error in flash, it has to be perfect. My favorite flash piece of mine (that was published by Bewildering Stories months back) took three editing sessions with the editor.

Last night I sat down to tear into this other baby and found myself frustrated. The word REWRITE makes me cower. I freeze up and lose myself.

To get through it, I went into editing mode. Just starting tweaking and making little changes here and there.

I’ve realized editing and rewriting are basically the same thing. The heart of the story doesn’t change. If I just call it editing, I can get over myself and get through it.

Of course the story in question hasn’t been accepted yet, but if it is, maybe…just maybe…I can raise my first novel from the dead.

I live for hope and that hope is the most wondrous.

5 thoughts on “Rewrites are my Kryptonite

  1. Dave S. Koster says:

    I’ve started to feel like rewriting is the real thing. The rest is mechanics and sketching things out. I don’t think I’ve put a single phrase to paper (or computer for that matter) that wasn’t rephrased half a dozen times. Still though, sometimes it is outrageously painful.

  2. Shannon Noel Brady says:

    I’m like you – I’m very good at editing and enjoy it, whether it’s spotting punctuation errors or tinkering with a paragraph. But, also like you, the word “re-write” makes me tremble in my boots! Funnily enough though, any time I’ve actually DONE a re-write, I was totally fine with it. Excited, even, on some occasions. Maybe because the value in these particular re-writes was so obvious, or because I had better ideas for where to take it than the first time. Maybe it’s the unknown that scares me – not knowing what rewrite will be requested. The fear of losing something that I genuinely think is good – a rewrite I don’t believe in. That’s a scary thought. But I like your idea of not calling them rewrites – call them edits! Edits don’t scare me. 🙂

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