What NOT to do when rewriting


This winter I’ve been working intensively on Ocean Effect to make it a tighter, more suspenseful story. I’ve added some mysterious elements, chopped some sagging chapters and punched up characterization. This past weekend I finally had no other obligations for the first time in a while and vowed to make major progress on my to-do list. And I did! 

By Sunday noon I was printing out the version I’ve been working on since Crime Bake in November and decided to treat myself to reading a favorite author that was on my to-be-read pile. What better way to reward myself on a wind-driven, sleeting afternoon? My husband watched football in the other room, I curled up with my dog and my Kindle, reading with an eye toward technique. 

I dove into Dennis Lehane’s Since We Fell, marveling at his knack for a perfectly-turned phrase and wholly original metaphors. It still amazes me the joy a good book brings. When I reached the end after 2:30 a.m., I thought: wow. What complexity! What multi-layered intrigue! How did he devise such effortlessly inter-woven plots?

Which was quickly followed by: my book sucks. It’s too simple. Not sophisticated enough. What was I thinking? No one’s going to want to read this. Unfortunately Dennis’ brilliance gave my inner critic a triple shot of espresso. So instead of my usual 6 a.m. butt-in-the-chair writing time, I found myself wallowing in bed yesterday (also sleep deprived). Should I stop embarrassing myself now? Maybe shove this in the back of a drawer? Or go pedal to the metal on another major overhaul?

It didn’t help that I’d just received a form rejection letter from the agency who’d requested a full manuscript during last fall’s Twitter pitch. So now I’m stuck in analysis paralysis, unsure of the way forward. Maybe I should stick to reading Dr. Seuss.