This evening I spent two hours completely rewriting 3 pages of creative work I sent in with my last packet.
It was a scene for my superhero story, the moment when Isaac embraces his power and becomes a hero. I’ve had the idea in my head for a long time, but I never got around to writing it, even with all the writing I’ve already done for his story. In my grasping at straws to find a thesis, I thought maybe I could work with him, work on his backstory a little bit, so I wrote that scene and turned it in. The scene was crap. Sometimes I think something’s pretty good, and it’s really not, but this time, I knew full well it was crap when I turned it in. It was a horrible first draft throwing in the ideas and outlining the event. I haven’t written Isaac in over a year, so I didn’t have his voice at all. I’d been playing around with first person, present tense for a couple of my other pieces, and his story is 3rd person, past tense, so the switch was very hard for me and I did a bit of wiggling around between tenses. On top of that, there were plenty of problems with the scene itself, things were unrealistic, even for a superhero story.
As I said, the original was close to 3 pages, more like 2.75, not that that makes that much of a difference. My advisor’s response was: “Not much to go on here, in terms of quantity or quality (not an insult—I just mean that the drafts are obviously quite rough).” [Note: I turned in about 6 pages total of creative work that packet—as opposed to the 20-30 in previous packets. The other three pages were Sarah.] He marked up the 3 pages like nobody’s business, confirming my suspicion that it was crap.
This time, rather than let it go and move on because I’d already lost interest in attempting Isaac’s story, I decided to do major revisions and see if I could make it better, decent even. Regardless of whether or not I continue to write this story, I wanted to use it to improve my craft.
This leads me to the 2 hours I spent on it this evening. I basically wrote it from scratch. I checked the original a few times to make sure I wasn’t making any of the same mistakes again and to get the gist of the original idea, but I kept maybe two lines of the original. The rest is all new. It was an intense experience. I drew on everything I’d learned about the craft in my recent annotations and I sat down and wrote that scene. It was hard work—golly, writing is hard work? Who woulda thunk?—but I came out the other side with at least a half page more and the scene feels much, much better than the original. I don’t know if it actually is that much better, but it feels like a good scene to me and I’m proud of it. The whole experience—getting so wrapped up in the process and the triumph of completing a good piece of writing—gave me such a high. It was awesome.
So now, I have two other—longer—pieces of creative work to edit before I mail Packet 4 on Monday. I don’t know that I’ve got the energy to keep at it, but I’ll give it a shot. At least I’ve got one thing to be proud of in this packet—I hope. At least these are new scenes, so it’s okay if they’re crappy. And they’re not as bad as the original Isaac scene, so I’ve got that going for me.
So, off to write and/or procrastinate.
Over and out.