Slogging through a Rewrite

When good rewrites go from bad to worse.

Last week I spent a good bit of my writing time slogging through a picture book rewrite.  The editor had pointed out  that I needed to have more fun with my topic.

“I can do that.  I’m a fun person.”

So I sat down to revise my manuscript.

I worked through the first spread, replacing sluggish verbs with fun, exciting, peppy verbs.  I tightened my text.  Much better.

Then I went on to the next spread and the next spread.

About half way through the manuscript, that annoying part of my brain kicked in.  Maybe you have this problem too.  There’s that wee little bit of your brain that doesn’t always participate in whatever you are doing, but then chimes in with a comment.  “You can do better than this!” said my naggy brain.

Some writers call this their internal editor.  They do their best to shut it down.

Me.  I need to learn to listen.

Instead, I slogged through a few more spreads but the going was tough.  How could something that was pure drudgery to write be fun?  I decided to take a break.

As I prepped my lunch, a line of text popped into my brain.  “Scuttle and stop.  Poke and prod.”    Not bad.  Obediently, I trotted back down the hall and entered these lines into the manuscript.

After lunch, I finished my rewrite.  By the time I got to the last spread, there was one thing that I knew.  I hadn’t been rewriting.  I had been doing a line edit.  Tightening.  Minor corrections.  This was not the whole sale rewrite that I needed to do.

Just to prove to myself that I was right, I took the manuscript to critique.  “This part is really good,” said Lynn.  “Scuttle and stop.  Poke and prod.”   Lynnea agreed.

I need to completely revamp this manuscript which means that I need to be re-inspired.  I need to experience some of the fun that can be children’s nonfiction.  To this end, I went online and poked through the publisher’s catalog.  Everything that looked fun, I requested.

This week, I’ll be reading.  If another fun line comes to me, I’ll get it down, but my focus will not be reworking.  My focus will be enjoying children’s nonfiction.  When I’ve found the fun, I’ll try again, but not before then.

–SueBE