My Writing Process #4/4: The Rewrite Phase – Step 3 “Where the rubber meets the road”

Oh dear.

My writing coach is going to shake a fist at me when she hears what I’m about to say:

“I’m stuck.”

You see, according to her, I’m not supposed to be.

But I kinda am right now. Sighhh…. 

I know she was talking more about the first draft when she says there’s no reason for any writer to get stuck. (Or maybe that’s just my wishful thinking!)

But I’m sure she’s going to be equally insistent that the lifelong mantra she teaches all her students is one I must chant even when I’m rewriting.

What mantra you ask?

“There’s no such thing as writer’s block!”

Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash

Sure Coach. Roger that!

And yet this past week (or more accurately, this past month), it feels like I’m having a writer’s “block”.

Oops! I mean “non-moment” (*sheepish grin*). Or whatever “this” is.

You see, every book and, perhaps more importantly, every book publisher, expects writers to have a book structure to ‘contain’ the story or the argument, depending on the genre.

The structure for mine has actually been in place since 12 months ago when I started brainstorming ideas for my book. But structure (for non-fiction) is based on what the argument is, which in turn is built upon what my book’s about.

And that’s where I’m stuck right now. My immediate problem is answering the all-important question: “What’s my book (really) about?”

I thought I knew, even up to the point when I started drafting this blog post.

Yet, it’s beginning to seem now like I don’t!

With just a structure but no answer to this mother of all questions, is it any surprise that I’ve been reviewing the various scenes and chapters in my book back and forth, back and forth, and back and forth again these past weeks?

Each time with no better insight as to how to move the pieces (paragraphs) around to achieve a coherent flow to my book’s argument. Is my argument even valid now in the light of this current rewrite?

Yes, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to…

…My Rewrite Reckoning Revisited!

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Maybe there’s more than one way to pull the proverbial “rabbit” outta this “hat”. Perhaps there’s actually material in this vomit draft of mine for more than one book!

Surely a happy problem, right?!

But whether that’s true or not doesn’t matter. What matters is I’ve been happily chasing this “rabbit”, this book idea, down various “rabbit holes”. And I’ve had no luck finding the critter.

I think Alice would have laughed at my pathetic state if she saw me now! At least she found Wonderland.

Me? All I found is…wonder?! Arrgghhh!!

But just to be fair to me…

Photo by Ashkan Forouzani on Unsplash

…I did do what I was advised to.

I have carefully divided the book into chapters, and done all the ‘cosmetics’ of filing them by the three-Act structure extolled by none other than the great Aristotle himself.

I have started indexing every paragraph in each chapter of Act 1 (except for the Introduction, which isn’t important at this early stage of my book’s development).

But then what? These past weeks, I find myself just staring and staring at the pages I printed out for Act 1.

And feeling trapped. 

Yes, I did rewrite (more like retype) some sections.

Yes, I did move some paragraphs around in an attempt to group common themes together.

But something’s still off. That mother-of-all questions is still bugging me.

And so I’m still…stuck.

I guess this is what it means when the rubber meets the road.

This is the reality of the rewrite process

Photo by Aubrey Odom on Unsplash

Famous author James A. Michener once wrote: “I’m not a very good writer, but I’m an excellent rewriter.” He who wrote over 40 books and won a Pulitzer Prize must know what he’s talking about.

An article I recently stumbled upon makes it clear too: “Rewriting is the key to good writing.” It’s also the hardest part, and I couldn’t agree more. What I’m experiencing now with my feeble rewrite makes the first draft I wrote between January and July this year look like a stroll in the park.

It’s clear I’ve a long and arduous road ahead of me, and no guarantee if I have enough “rubber in my tyres” to complete it.

So here’s praying I get to its end and live to tell the tale in a more informative and helpful blog post. More than this one has proven so far to be (sorry my dear reader!).

Then again, perhaps my current struggle will help a new and aspiring writer know that this whole rewriting thing is part of the deal. And it promises to make the writing better if one stays the course.

And so for me, this promise is all I have to cling onto right now!

With that said, it’s back to the road.

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