IWSG—Grueling edits


The Insecure Writer’s Support Group convenes the first Wednesday of the month. Participants share their worries, insecurities, triumphs, hopes, and fears.

This month, the IWSG question is:

Have you ever pulled out a really old story and reworked it? Did it work out?

That’s what many of my books are! I wrote the rough drafts when I was really young. Most of these are my Atlantic City books, which I love radically rewriting and restructuring (as exhausting as that can be!).

I never understood why my mother felt I should “move on” after reaching some arbitrary age. I love these characters and their stories, and literally grew up with the original cast of characters. We’ve known one another since we were eleven years old. After now 25 years together, I kind of know them inside and out. That puts me in the perfect position to not only continue writing the stories of their lives, but also to revise their oldest stories.

I also want to resurrect my 18th and 19th century characters, whom I thought I’d permanently shelved in the early Nineties. I figure if I never forgot their names and stories in all these years, they were meant to be. I also created these characters (albeit not historical originally) when I was like five or six years old. It’s destiny.


I just finished second edition edits for Little Ragdoll, which I’m still waiting on the revamped cover for. I first went through the book on my newer computer and made a file with all the things I needed to change on the Word and HTML files on my older computer. (My newer computer won’t open Word 2003, since it’s a Power Point PC application, and I don’t think I can do Time Machine on a computer which never had an older operating system like Mountain Lion.)

My older computer was behaving very well, though it was taking a lot longer than I anticipated. After fixing all the main issues, I began doing find/change to root out excess usage of crutch words and phrases like “even,” “yet,” “apparently,” “I know,” “now,” “I mean,” “still,” “then,” “ever,” and “just.”

I ultimately decided to go through the entire file and make the changes as part of a read-through, not finding them and deciding if the usage of that word or phrase worked in that context or could be junked. I felt it’d reduce the effort.


I became concerned my older computer was being overused, and making that whirring sound more often than not. Its left fan is broken, and while it’s not dangerous, I don’t like risking overheating. This computer is ten years old, and doesn’t need overworked in its senior years!

I took the most recently saved Word file onto my flash drive and converted it into Pages on my newer computer, so I could work on it as one file, instead of going back and forth between three files on two computers. This still took a long time and wore me out, but it was a lot more practical.

Afterwards, I saved it as a doc file and went back onto my older computer, who really appreciated its resting period. All I had to do was re-hyperlink the table of contents in the Word file. Thankfully, the chapter and appendix titles still registered as being in a heading style, so I didn’t have to go through and redo that as well. After that, I converted it back into an HTML file.


I took out almost 22,000 words, after thinking I’d just be doing minor tweakings. I’m so much happier the slightly shorter, much stronger second edition has replaced the first edition which released 20 June 2014. It’s a blessing in disguise it only sold maybe two copies since its release.

I made some really stupid mistakes in marketing, and then gave up trying in humiliation and embarrassment because no one was buying my books. Once I have revamped covers for both LR and Swan, I’m going to finally make paper copies of all four of the books I currently have out, and I’ll be able to do things like book-signings and library promotions.

14 thoughts on “IWSG—Grueling edits

  1. You did so much work! I love the photos of the innards of your computer. I also have a dinosaur computer upstairs. I don’t think it will even boot up anymore. I have a middle aged one on the shelf that is literally falling apart! I saved the files to an external hard drive. Great job doing a life-saving effort on your stories!
    Mary at Play off the Page


  2. I figured you’d have something to say about this topic as you’ve often written about reworking old material. I’m more complacent than you I think, but then again I’ve never had anything published so anything old that I’ve rewritten would be fair game for redoing. I’m just lazy though.

    Your computer story reminds me of some of my own. I have two older computers that I’m keeping because of stuff that might be on the hard drive that I didn’t manage to transfer to my external drive. I’m so bad about backing things up and saving things. I’ve already lost writings I’ve done on even older computers that I no longer have. One of the disadvantages of keeping stuff on computer files, but I’ve lost plenty of handwritten work that I’ve done in the past as well. Not only am I lazy, but I’m kind of negligent and forgetful.

    Oh well, it’s just stuff and old thoughts.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out


    • One of my disks won’t open on my external disk drive, which I suspect is because it doesn’t have the little square openings on the top of either side like my other disks. Only one of those files is important anymore, and that file caught some kind of bug and was unable to be opened a long time ago. I long since came to terms with the fact that I’ll have to start over with that book (a WIP, not completed), and it needed some radical revising anyway. Some of my less-old files were transferred from my eMac, and went right from AppleWorks into Word instead of requiring all the hoops as my MacWriteII and ClarisWorks files. I really wish Mac had continued making its word processing programs mutually intelligible, instead of difficult to convert into one another.


    • My older computer has now lasted longer than either of my first two, the 152K Mac and the ’93 Mac. They both lived for nine years, though the ’93 Mac might’ve lived longer if not for that tragic accident with a cup of water (a makeshift vase) tipping over and the water spilling right into the openings on the top of the computer.


  3. That sounds like a productive edit with a 22,000 word difference.

    I was always worried with my older computers. They would all sound like they were working too hard.

    Let me know how I can help when your revamped books come out. 🙂


    • Thanks! The woman who’s doing my revamped cover is also an indie writer, and encouraged me not to stop trying or just give up due to lack of sales. She said she’s had books which didn’t sell as well as she’d hoped upon initial release, but she didn’t give up marketing them.


  4. Exciting times! I think chopping is always a good thing…and not just because I’m a minimalist. 😉 What a lot of work though! And I can’t decide what I’m more impressed about–the 22,000 words, or the 10 year old FUNCTIONAL computer. 😉


  5. Your post reminded me of some characters I imagined when I was around 8-10 years old. It would be interesting to actually write about them…hmm.

    Working with old computers can be quite time-consuming, but that’s amazing that yours still functions after ten years. You could try getting a fan that plugs into the USB port to keep it cool. I use one with my older computer and it works well.


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