distraction no.99

Nova Ren Suma | On Writing & Writing Distractions

Not an Author Newsletter… something else.

The Self-Imposed Page 1 Rewrite

The internet is a minefield. I’m censoring what I want to say about that.

You know what else is a minefield? My first draft. Every time I make progress I see another UTTERLY IMPORTANT plot piece I need to go back and change! I get new ideas and I want them in! My muse—yes, I have a muse; it’s a boy and he lives with me—says something brilliant about the story or the characters, I get a new idea, and start itching to make the fix. This story is many-layered, with multiple threads and people involved. Tug or shift one and the whole thing caves in.

I know I’ll be happy I did this later, but some days I can’t see the progress. My word count keeps contracting and expanding and then contracting again as I cut words, spew out new ones, and forge ahead.

What happened? you may ask. I thought you were writing a first draft! You’re not supposed to go back to the beginning.

Oh well. I do a lot of things I’m not supposed to do.

I am writing a “first” draft. But I’m a revise-as-I-go writer, and I absolutely could not bear to have the wrong plot elements in place behind me as I wrote ahead to end. (Also I find that confusing.) I had to go back, people. I had to go back to page 1, even though I know I’ll still need to revise more later.

Going back to the beginning—yet again—was a few weeks ago by now, I guess, so I am no longer on page 1, thank you very much, but I’m still not done.

This novel is… nothing like I’ve ever written before. And yet also at the same time this novel is very, very me.

Hey—changing subject to divert you from the fact that my novel is not done yet—want to read a really amazing book… one I didn’t write?

You’re in luck. Check out my interview with author Amy Reed about her stunning new novel CLEAN. If you comment on the post, you’re entered to win a signed copy! Thank you so much to everyone who’s shared comments so far… the stories are so touching. You have till Monday to leave a comment and I hope you will!


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6 responses to “The Self-Imposed Page 1 Rewrite”

  1. It’s so tricky going back and weaving in new threads, but once everything is in place it’s such a great feeling to know your story works.

    (By the by, my top-secret project is going really well!)

  2. I should be more like you. once I’ve finished and it sits, I always dread going back to the beginning!

    PS- I neeeeeeed that signed book!!!

    • Leave a comment on the other post, the Amy Reed interview, and you’re entered for the signed book!! It’s awesome. Seriously.

  3. I am writing a “first” draft. But I’m a revise-as-I-go writer, and I absolutely could not bear to have the wrong plot elements in place behind me as I wrote ahead to end.

    That’s me all over. Glad to know I’m not alone.

  4. I just finished reading Imaginary Girls for the second time. I feel like a freak since what I got out of it is not what I read on GoodReads. I love this book. It’s the best book I’ve read it in a long time, but am I the only person in the world who thinks maybe it was not so supernatural after all? But about what a 14 year old lost, tried to keep, and really couldn’t let go of. When I think of those sisters, their lives, and how they held on to each other. It might be ONLY my opinion, but you begin with a death and end with a death and it could be the same one.

    Good luck on the new story. Jane

    • Jane, Thank you so much for reading IG not just once… but twice! I’m honored and thrilled that the book spoke to you so much.

      I should say I don’t know what’s being said on Goodreads. I can’t go there anymore—I ended up deleting my author account and I don’t read any of the reviews. I’m just too sensitive to see, and I found that reading blog reviews and Goodreads reviews was negatively affecting the writing of my new novel… (good reviews and meh reviews and bad), so I put my writing first. I don’t want to know!

      BUT I can tell you, from emails I’ve received, that you are not the first person to think it is not supernatural at all. In fact, I feel very strongly about keeping interpretations open, and this was with me the whole time I was writing. I wouldn’t tell any reader what to think by the end. No reaction is wrong.

      I love what you said. Thank you, Jane.

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