IWSG—February odds and sods

It’s time for another meeting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. The first Wednesday of each month, we share struggles, triumphs, quandaries, and fears.

My current foci are preparing And Jakob Flew the Fiend Away for its hardcover version and resuming the long-hiatused radical rewrite of the book formerly known as The Very Last. Within the next two weeks, I’ll start hopefully the final proof check of the hardcover version of Little Ragdoll.

Since I caught a couple of little errors and added a few new bits here and there, I’ll also be going through both manuscripts’ paperback proofs again. Why update the one but not the other, as much extra work as that creates?

I unfortunately lost an entire day of work due to my most crippling attack of dysmenorrhea in what feels like a good twenty years, but health always comes first. I’d almost forgotten what it felt like to be so completely incapacitated and in such agonizing pain.

I recently got this cute little notebook from Peter Pauper Press for outlining my rewrites of TVL and Almost As an Afterthought. Unlike the radical rewrites of the books formerly known as The Very First and The Very Next, I knew I’d be adding a LOT of new material, not mostly reworking existing chapters and filling in the blanks as necessary.

In the case of AAAA, I have to rebuild it almost from scratch. Not only are the first two drafts rather unfocused, they’re also very underwritten. I have every intention of converting that 11,000-word novelette into a full-sized novel with an actual story arc.

TVL came to 36,500 words after I transcribed it and slightly reworked it into a second draft. Of all four prequels, it’s the one I had the most fun writing, and its first draft also had a much stronger, more consistent story arc than any of the others. Because of that, and based on the extensive outline I’ve made, I predict it’ll be the longest of the four. It’s always been the one I’m proudest of.

I’ve since junked what was Chapter 3, so some of the chapter numbering is no longer in synch. I solved that problem by deciding to split the Coney Island section of the Long Island chapter into its own chapter. There are still 25 chapters in each Part, with 50 total.

I abandoned the rewrite in 2015, despite how well it was going, because I was frustrated at not finding much detailed information about the 1940 Portuguese World Exposition. The thought of researching and writing about the 1939–40 World’s Fair in Queens all over again, not that long after Dark Forest, also exhausted me. I didn’t want to do too much repeating or burn out my enthusiasm for the subject.

And yes, there is a chapter called “The Wrath of Conny,” and it is a deliberate play on The Wrath of Khan.

If lockdown ever ends, I could easily have the third draft done by the end of the year and start work on the final version. I now realize it was ultimately for the best that I put the rewrite on the back burner, since I was still too emotionally attached to the original material. Despite having no problem junking a bunch of chapters, I nevertheless held on to a few others which served no purpose.

Do you have any special notebooks, pens, or pencils for outlining stories? Would you like them? Have you ever resumed a rewrite after a long hiatus?

8 thoughts on “IWSG—February odds and sods

  1. I did take a hiatus on my main series, although I think my crumbling mental health forced me too. But as I sorted myself out, and returned to the draft, I noticed I was able to look at it more critically. For years I wanted to get all the magical details on the page. But critically I had unnecessary characters, clunky fight scenes and gaps in character development. I was emotionally ready to fix these and my current version is getting a better response from beta readers.

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  2. You have my sympathy regarding your recent pain, Carrie-Anne! May it not revisit you soon. I’m confronting a long rewrite now ~ It’s scary. Your notebook is inspiring. I tend to go with white-lined essay pads. Good luck with your projects, and Happy IWSG Day!

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  3. I had ordered a pen with a hand-sculpted dragon on its top that I intended to use as a pen reserved for writing my fiction, article outlines and journals. I ordered it through Amazon a few years back but the ink was dried out when I received it in the mail. I just keep it around for a novelty now.

    I had put my novella on hiatus after I started it five years ago and then I returned to it about a year ago. Then about three or four months ago I put it on hiatus again because I was getting so frustrated with trying to juggle all the elements of a length of work that I normally don’t write (I mostly write short fiction). Now I’m turning to getting together a second short story collection to publish.

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