You Will be Born Again
The soul was rotting, facing a fiery eternity in the bottom of a three door file cabinet, drowning in the sin of bad grammar and poor plot points. It needed to be reborn, given new life so that it might not suffer the fatal eternity that was awaiting it. It desperately needed the gospel of revision to save its poor, pathetic soul.
A few weeks back, I rediscovered a stack of old stories and articles. They were in sad shape. Suffice it to say, my writing has improved in the thirty years since I first picked up a pen. Some of the stories weren’t even finished, dropped after a few chapters because I either gave up or became distracted by another storyline that had gripped my attention. They were abandoned to manila folders that faded over time on paper that turned yellow with the years hidden in my desk drawer. The ideas were not fleshed out; they weren’t even thought completely out. Back then I grew excited about an idea and started writing. No background. No idea where I was going. Just a thought, a glimpse of an idea, and I was absorbed in a story that sometimes had no ending.
I pulled these manuscripts out, a few typed with dozens of mistakes, others hand written and began to type them into Word files for posterity. As I did, the stirrings of the ideas that had started me working on them refreshed themselves into my imagination and they weren’t that bad. I’ve actually been reworking some of the stories, doing those things that I should have done way back when that I didn’t know to do. I started exploring my characters, getting to know them; researching the cities or fantasy worlds I had started to create, giving them more and more definition and truth. These stories could still work. They could be born again.
It was the same with old articles, whether they had sold or not. It was time to rework them, updating the information, change up the anecdotes, and breathe new life into them. A new article emerged and new markets were found, which meant new money was soon coming my way.
Carpenters do it with old furniture, mechanics with old cars, and I wish someone would do it with my joints and muscles. However, it works with manuscripts and will keep me typing for years to come. Nothing is trash. Sometimes, it just needs to be aged and inspected in a new light.
I hate giving up on manuscripts. I’ve invested hours, sweat, blood, ink and frustration into them, falling in love - or hate - with some of the characters on the pages. They need to see the light of publication. They need to feel the healing power of revision, being covered in the red ink of edits that will rise them up from the ashes and set them on the righteous path of publication. Don’t give up. Every manuscript needs a chance at being born again.
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