I am at a new stage of my so-called writing life. I am RE-writing! It’s true what they say about writing a book—you are never really finished with it. No matter how many times you pick it up, you find something you want to change.
Writing a novel is a pretty daunting experience. “Daunting” was my first adjective of choice. Others that crossed my mind were “unnerving,” “formidable” and “intimidating.” They all apply. Go ahead, write a novel and I think you will agree any of those words describes the process.
When I published AGAIN (yes, that’s the title of the book) three years ago, I declared it would be my last book. I have written 11 since I retired back in 2008. I would have never predicted that. I hasten to say I have no expectation of ever seeing one of my books on the bestseller list. This conclusion has nothing to do with low self-esteem or humility. It is simply the fact that my books don’t get much publicity and I am willing to admit I am probably a pretty average wannabe novelist. Other excuses: I got a late start doing all this; I haven’t studied the craft that much; I have attended only one writer’s conference and I haven’t read as many books as those young whipper-snappers on the amazon fast track.
So what motivates me to spend hours pecking away on a keyboard? While I am human and, of course, I would love to see one of my books stacked on a front table at B&N, I simply enjoy the writing process. I have always liked projects, especially building things, despite my almost failing woodshop in middle school. But writing a novel is like building. You start with a foundation—the plot—and proceed from there, pounding the keys (the nails) until it all comes together and the doors open and close without squeaking.
The beauty of being an independent author/publisher, especially of books that hardly anyone has read, is that I can go back over my books and make changes that no one will notice. Nowadays, with the convenience of the POD concept (print-on-demand) I can rewrite my books, fix any errors, change a word here and there or even do radical surgery. There’s no one in the waiting room waiting, and if a reader does pick up a copy after the patient is rolled out of the recovery room with new parts, well, they won’t even feel guilty for not having sent a get-well card.
So that’s what I am doing right now—playing doctor. My first major effort writing a novel was THE POPE’S STONE. For a first novel, it has been read by more people than any of my books. That said, there was a theme to the criticism that several readers expressed. Since the book deals with the parallel stories of two characters who live a century apart, some readers found it difficult to keep track of the when’s and where’s of the story line. That was because I structured the book so that there was a constant back-and-forth from one character to the other. This meant that the time periods also kept bouncing to-and-fro. Readers got confused!
THE POPE’S STONE, Second Edition has hardly any changes in text, but almost every chapter has been uprooted and repositioned. This resulted in a revised, two-part book that makes a lot more sense and reads a lot more smoothly. It was a challenge, but fun tearing down the book’s structure and rewelding it into a new floor plan.
Currently, I am finishing up a rewrite of AGAIN. It’s a better book this time and given the unusual concept of the story, I am pleased with the adjustments I made. Most of them were compliments of a rare, thorough editing of the book donated by a good friend. It was a ton of work because he came in with a wrecking ball and smashed things up just about everywhere, leaving the book dripping with red ink. Hopefully I mopped up everything and I won’t need to reread AGAIN…again.