by Cricket McRae
I’m in rewrite mode on my third Sophie Mae Reynolds Home Crafting Mystery, tentatively titled Spin a Wicked Web. My deadline looms, and I’m tweaking everything from pacing to word choice to sentence rhythm. It’s tedious, exacting, and requires that I alternate between tiny detail and big picture decisions several times each hour.
My vision is blurry from staring at the computer monitor, I have a college ruled binder full of scribbled notes with priority numbers assigned to each one so I don’t forget anything (a holdover from the bug lists of my computer software days), and if it weren’t for the elliptical trainer in the room next to my office, my butt would be the same size as my desk chair.
The desk chair’s pretty big.
I absolutely love it. There’s something about the rewrite process that obsesses and sooths me at the same time.
The first draft? For me it’s all about making footprints on that pristine snowy field. Clomp, clomp, clomp. Not all that pretty, but progress nonetheless. In Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott says you have to be willing to write a shitty first draft. Apparently I’m not only willing, but able.
Rewriting is fun, though. The book feels like a whole different being, full of life and intensely real potential. The first draft is making the clay: dirt and water and hope. Rewriting is fine tuning the details of the sculpture.
Oh, I know. Everyone else writes perfect prose from the get go, polishes minor glitches as they write, and could publish any piece of their book with five seconds notice once they’ve moved on to the next bit.
Okay, maybe not everyone. But I do know people who work very successfully like this. I’m friends with them despite that.
Are you a rewriter, creating and editing mulitple drafts? A perfectionist from page one? What’s your favorite part of the writing process?