One thing many writers don’t really want to talk about is the dreaded rewriting. Why? Well, maybe we’d like you think that our wonderful stories spring fully fledged from our pens onto the paper.
Not realistic, but a girl can dream.
Out in the Dark, which will come out in the summer, was written a few years back. I let it sit after it got a bunch of rejections, but last summer I looked at it again and found some areas I could improve, some words I could change. And what do you know… the story is better. Even that first chapter that’s available online, has in fact changed for the better.
I’m currently working on both more Fountain Pen tales, those are intense, so I take them slowly, one at a time, and I’m working on ‘In One Night’. ‘In One Night’ is again historical fiction and I was trucking along nicely with it and had 100 pages written, but then I got stuck.
I looked over the material, read it and reread it. Took out a pen and scribbled in the margins and then put the printout aside for a few months. It was not going where I wanted it to go, but I also didn’t know where I wanted it to go.
Now I do. Initially it was the story about a family in Strasbourg, France during WWII and events played out at a small castle in the Vosges mountains nearby. A friend living in Strasbourg had sent me reams of research and information which I dutifully tried to fold into the story. But what was starting to happen was that I wasn’t writing the story I wanted to write, I was writing what I thought my friend was expecting me to write.
Nothing stifles creativity like trying to live up to other’s expectations. It was no longer my story.
So then, what did I want the story to be? What was I curious to learn and who were my favorite characters? I’ll tell you:
I want to write the family drama of a widowed father, trying to raise 5 children in a time of war and occupation, when French language and culture is systematically quashed under the occupier’s boot. A family of 4 teens and one 4-yr old. A family torn apart by divided loyalties and misguided beliefs and desires. A very human family with an overstressed father, who is no longer allowed to teach at the university unless he’ll teach in German. The two eldest children who don’t want to see that their new friends are wrong. The strong middle child, Thérèse, who sees more than she should and tries to save her family. The birth of the Hitler youth, and how many of the region’s children were sucked into it without realizing, until it was too late, what it stood for.
That’s the story I want to write. What Professor Detweiler and his children go through, what Thérèse does and the difficult choices she must make.
And that’s why I rewrite; to tell the story I want to know, and the story I want to share.