Wondering If It’s Jinxed

For the past few months, I’ve been working on an old manuscript, trying to salvage it for publication. I’d initially written this story back in the late 1990’s, so it needs a lot of work, both because it’s outdated and because my writing style has changed. Improved, I hope.
It was after my first book was published in 2012, that I pulled this one out of the mothballs and started to revise it. At some point, I decided the improvements needed were too vast, so I abandoned it in favour of the story I’ll next be publishing, Dare To Risk All. Then I wrote and published It’s Complicated, and have now gone back to that old manuscript.
It’s been rife with problems from the onset. The first thing I did was read it, start to finish. I continually laughed in disbelief at the story and my writing. OMG, the female character is a bitch, plain and simple. And the male character is a player. Cute and charming, for certain, but shallow and conceited as well. Neither character very likeable, I’m afraid. So I set about fixing them – and the story.
As I worked, I kept saying to myself, I thought I’d fixed this part already. About five chapters into rewrites, I came to one particular scene where I distinctly remembered changing it. Totally confused, I went back into my old computer files. I had an initial (and hilariously bad) version of this ms labelled #1. Then I had one labelled #2, and the current one labelled #3. When I opened version #2, I immediately saw I had a serious problem.
This was the version I’d worked on back in 2012 before abandoning it. Oh-oh. But I had already put in some seriously hard work on the first five chapters of the third version. How, why, I had them misnumbered, I still don’t know, but rather than beating myself up about it (or beating my head against the nearest wall), I set about looking for a solution.
What I came up with was painstakingly slow and methodical. I printed all 200+ pages of each manuscript and set them side by side on my desk. Then I opened both files on my computer and started a new file labelled current. Working my way, word by word, line by line, I compared each printed copy to the other, then copied and pasted on the computer the version I wanted into the new file. Talk about tedious.
I quickly found yet another problem. If I’d liked part of a scene or a snippet of conversation from something I didn’t plan to keep, I’d used it somewhere else. So there was the danger of having the exact same words used twice in two different places. Yikes!! Lucky for me, I have a mind for such details and I believe (fingers firmly crossed) I caught every instance of this. But boy, did it add spice to my frustration. And I still couldn’t find that one scene I knew for sure I had written.
So I turned to my binder of notes. Yes, I have a binder of notes. I know. But as I said, I’d originally written this story over fifteen years ago. I’d always intended to go back to it one day, I just didn’t know how many years that one day would take. So, whenever I got an idea for a scene or a bit of dialogue, I’d write it down in this binder. I have separate sections for each of the books I’ve written.  Somehow, I’d ended up with nearly twenty pages of chicken scratch just for this story. Twenty entire pages!  Some of the stuff was written in the middle of the night, when inspiration stuck, and not only the writing was barely legibly, so was the idea. I do tend to make things hard for myself.
As I began wading through the pages, crossing out this and that, I realized I’d never make sense of so many notes unless I put them into some sort of order, so that’s what I’ve been doing. I started a new file on the computer, made categories and have been typing the notes into whichever section they seem to belong in. As I worked my way farther along, lo and behold, I came across that scene I knew I had written. I wasn’t crazy, I hadn’t dreamed it. I had literally written it down – on paper, rather than into the actual ms.
I also realized there were potential problems with the technical aspects of my characters’ careers. Lots had changed in that side of the film industry since I had originally written it, and after a few discussions with my youngest son, who coincidently happens to work in that same profession, I came to the horrified conclusion that I had many, make that most, of my facts and the jargon wrong. The vast majority of people who read the book would never know. But I would. So I’ve been continuously picking my poor son’s brain and reading blog after blog on the internet, trying to get a realistic handle on the details. And some scenes aren’t plausible, so will need to be drastically changed or eliminated. That’s the way the cookie crumbles, I guess.
With all the bad writing, complications and snafus, I’ve been tempted, so very often, to just give up on this one again. Maybe it’s not meant to be. Maybe the story is actually jinxed. Maybe I’m an idiot for even trying. But I don’t quit easily and the bones of the story are good. I think. We’ll see. If I manage to keep my sanity long enough to finish it.

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2 thoughts on “Wondering If It’s Jinxed

  1. Well Joyce, you have given me a new appreciation for what writers go through. Thanks for sharing, I knew it was difficult but had no idea just how difficult. To think that I actually believed I could write a book one day, well I think that one day came and went a long time ago. I enjoy your sharing and thoughts though, it is very interesting to learn about the process you go through to get to the finished product. Thanks for all your effort in writing something that is such a pleasure to read. I appreciate it.

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    • To be a writer, you have to have an incredible amount of patience and stick-to-it-tiveness. (A certain amount of talent helps, although some writers have far more than others) Many hours go into the process. Research, writing, revising. Repeat as necessary. It’s not for everyone, but if a person truly believes they have a story to share, they find a way to make it happen.

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