Total Joy! The Rewrite!

Rewrite, joy of rewriting, writing corrections, writing process, novels, authors, writing process, editing, Yuletide BrideDon’t you love to rewrite?

Not just your manuscript, but your whole life?

Does an eraser on the end of a pencil give you comfort?

Are you thrilled with the cut and paste feature that comes with word processing?

Do you feel an enormous sense of relief that there is no sin God will not forgive?

It’s total joy, the ability to rewrite.

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At least that’s what I’m telling myself these days as I send off my latest novella to the publisher and I return to my novel-in-writing  set during World War I.

Back to the morass.

At least that’s what it felt like after I experienced the high of finishing the FIRST DRAFT of my manuscript (see post here), took a break to write a novella, and then got a reaction from my agent.

Not ready. Back to work.

Arg, the downfall!

I took a couple days off to mourn I’m not a wonder writer whose first draft was so perfect it had to be rushed to the printer. I sulked, moped, ate too much and watched movies while I played solitaire on my Ipad. For three days I simply wallowed in my grief.

During the month of April I worked on another project and when my mind drifted to “oh, no! What now?” I sternly invoked the reminder: “You don’t have to think about this until May.

Okay, so I cheated. The Yuletide Bride wrote like a dream. I finished early. My mind kept returning to my WWI manuscript.

Rewrite, joy of rewriting, writing corrections, writing process, novels, authors, writing process, editing, Yuletide Bride

It wasn’t May.

How about auxiliary research?

Well, I could do auxiliary research, right? I’d watch a few more movies, finally read the definitive novel, Mark Helprin‘s Soldier of the Great War. Keep my hand in, so to speak, while I wrote about bagpipes and 1873 Nebraska.

It didn’t work. I couldn’t stomach the book (It’s 860 pages long!). My heart couldn’t stomach war movies. I DID NOT DO ANY WORLD WAR I research!

I was tired of the war. Tired.

But even as I wrote about Nebraska, my mind drifted back to my story and the concerns of my agent.

It reminded me of a rumpled bed that needed to have the sheets and blankets straightened, the pillows plumped and the spread pulled taut–then the story would be ready. It was just a matter of straightening and writing a synopsis that reflected the story.

What a relief.

But in those early days, my brain spun in circles and I was confused.  I knew my usual editor, Jamie Chavez, was busy. (Jamie very helpfully wrote a pertinent blog post during this time about writing more than a first draft. Sigh.) I don’t have a critique group. My usual readers hadn’t noticed what my agent pin pointed.

I needed a little clarifying help.

Fortunately, another novelist/book doctor was free and I contacted Cindy Coloma. She has a personal interest in a key component of my tale. Cindy read the proposal, got enthusiastic, and sent it back with track changes.

We also discussed the manuscript on Skype for 45 minutes so I could talk out my concerns with a writer who understood the technical issues. She sent me information that I turned into a work sheet. It was very helpful.

I like to call this the second draft synopsis.  🙂

We’ll see what Cindy thinks. In the meantime, I’m grateful for another chance to explain my story. I love the project and I’m looking forward to returning to those characters, shaking up their lives a little more, giving them a more pointed destination and playing with the manuscript.

Don’t you love a rewrite?

At the same time, I get to review my euphoria over completion, eat some humble pie, be grateful God loves me no matter how silly I am, and, well, Word makes it all so easy.

Who can feel anything but relief?

Especially because, no matter what, the research is all done!


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  1. How many drafts before you’re done?

    One more.

    I’m doing another rewrite of Emerald Isle, with some very clear directives…some are simple to implement, some are very, very complex.

    But I don’t mind, because the goal is to have the thing published, and not to satisfy my own ego as ‘just right’.

    Just Right is when it goes to press. Not before. Period, full stop.

    BTW, have you seen the film “Passchendaele”? I’ve heard it’s quite good…with a romantic subplot that’s not “modern pasted over WW1”.

    Love to hear what you think of Mel Gibson’s “Gallipoli”, as well…

    And, as my personal nadir of WW1 films…”The Blue Max”. Great flying, but not a single character about whom I gave a whoop.

    • Michelle Ule

       /  May 3, 2014

      Every time I suggest Gallipoli my husband cringes . . . we haven’t endured that one yet–I’ll need a second Ipad to play solitaire on to sit through such misery–two-handed solitaire! I hunted for Passchendaele, but haven’t found it yet. I may have to steel myself to get through those two . . . My book, however, is carefully calibrated to not look at the horrors–it’s all played off stage, as it were–the war is used as the background while the rest goes on. It’s done on purpose–publishers are not interested in WWI; they flinch when you mention it.

      How many drafts? Hemingway famously did 50 for The Old Man and the Sea–all longhand. Which may explain why the book is so short . . .

  2. Ha! GOOD one! Thank you, my friend. 🙂

    • Michelle Ule

       /  May 3, 2014

      What are friends for? Slinking back to the rewrite desk . . .

  3. You are lucky to have people do this. I am. re-reading a set of books I have enjoyed in the past and getting to know the characters again. I didn’t catch it the first time because the book came out a year and a half apart, but a sub character the author was setting up to be an undercover agent in the first two books, ends up going to prison between book 2 and book 3.

    • Michelle Ule

       /  May 3, 2014

      This is why I’m always so grateful to readers–like you!

  4. I wouldn’t rewrite a thing about my life. When I look back on my 67 years, I see the hand of God in everything that has unfolded.

  5. God is the God of the second chance, so I guess that also means He is God of the rewrite. My rewrite usually happens when I’m half asleep in bed…then it hits me! Lord have mercy, that is all wrong. Unfortunately, it sometimes happens after I sent out my manuscript. 🙂

  6. Loved this, Michelle! And I think every writer wants our agent or readers to be awed and amazed at what we turn in, then we have to sulk and pout a bit when that isn’t the response. I’ve had plenty of those days. I can’t wait to read the newest revised revised revision. 🙂


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