April’s conversation topic is Success and Failure, the roller coaster ride that every writer takes on a daily, hourly..may I say…minute by minute basis. Under our beds are dust-moted old manuscripts. For each book we bring to press are ‘awful versions’ of the same novel which we’ve successfully transformed to a page turner. We might have those dated versions on our computers, but we’ll probably never look at them again. Why? Because our current successes build from our failures.
When I was an English teacher, I once had a student named Craig who was one of the poorest spellers I’d ever encountered. Craig was smart and a goal-setter. He was determined to go to college and earn a business/advertising degree. Could he be successful in college if he misspelled every other word? Could I write a page-turning novel after penning stories that should not see the light of day?
The answer is yes to Craig and yes to any writer. Our successes build from our failures. Craig studied hard to memorize every word he couldn’t spell and when spell check came about, he got an extra boost. He refused to believe he was less than intelligent because he had trouble spelling, much like I refuse to let a writing dilemma go unchallenged.
I am curious, though. How many of you have dug out an old, early manuscript and make it sparkle? I’d love to know!
SUSPENSE SPIKED WITH ROMANCE
LAST RESORT * FADEOUT * SWOON
FADEOUT won a RONE award! LIE CATCHERS is out on KDP right now!
My answer to your old manuscript made new question is - Once. So far. I used the basic premise, professions and characters. Another time it was a short story expanded to 70K then cut to 40 before it sold. I like that theme you suggest. Out of our failures come our successes. Nice!
I've rewritten two of my first attempts from 20+ years ago. One is published. One will hit the world this summer. I swear it was more work rewriting than starting from scratch. Took just about as long. But I liked the plot and characters so the effort was worth it.
As for Craig, I can so relate! I'm a horrible speller. In college, my roommate had to correct every paper I wrote, and I was an English major! This was back in the days of typewriters. Can you say lots and lots of white out! Spell check was the best tool ever invented!
I have an early manuscript that I have tried to redo many, many times. I love the secondary, quirky characters...the hero and heroine, not so much. I hadn't gotten a handle on creating sympathetic characters yet. In fact, I still struggle with heroines. Either they're comical in my opinion and TSTL in my CP's opinion or strong in my thoughts and bitchy in my CP's analysis. Heroes I can do. Heroines are a struggle for me. Will I ever try a 4th time to resurrect that puppy? Nope. I have deleted it from my hard drive in an act of mercy.
I have one all prettied up and under consideration by a publisher right now - fingers crossed! What is interesting is when you look back at old manuscripts and see how far you've come in writing skills, yes? Sometimes, Real Life just interferes and good stories are left to languish - I guess the real skill lies in knowing what to resuscitate and what to let quietly fade away - or delete, as Vonnie said :-)
Interesting post, very inspiring. I have not yet dusted off an old manuscript and made it sparkle, but my first MS is still on my computer. I rather like the characters and storyline, and my son, who was about 8 when I wrote it, and is now 21, mentions it from time to time and says it's his favorite book I've written, even though he's never read any of mine, LOL. But, he's always interested in hearing about the plot, and that was his fave. :) He encourages me to polish it and publish it, but I have so many new ideas and sequels that need to be written, I may never do that. Surprisingly, even though I know it was poorly written, it won a few contests back in the day. Of curse, that was just the first 30 pages or so. :)
Who knows, one of these days, for my son if nothing else, I might just take a crack at it. Thank you for a thought-provoking post!
Interesting post. Yes, I've dusted off an old ms, prettied it up, and published it. In fact, I have some that I truly love and will be shining them up to be published. Of course, there are some that should stay under the bed. LOL
Thanks to all of you for responding so robustly to my question. I'm inspired to try a resuscitation, now. I have a book called Bad Lies, about a golfer, that my friends enjoyed...but I never published it. Don't you love the title?
Ah...I remember white out. I even remember carbon paper! I too have a reject sitting in some box stuffed in a corner somewhere. I might resurrect the characters, but the plot is better left buried. :-)
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