For the last few months, I've sat with my eyes focused on my computer screen and my fingers tapping at my keyboard, reworking a novel I already finished, edited, and enlisted beta readers. Why would I spend so much time on a completed manuscript?
Simple. I wrote the book as a coping mechanism for my chronic illness. It was written for an audience of one: me, a middle-aged man with an oddly unique perspective on the world. I want people to eventually read my books, so I need to think beyond myself.
In the last year, I wrote two and a half books for my son (still looking for an agent). So I decided to dust off my finished manuscript and re-work it for my daughter.
At first, I thought I could adapt DAY AFTER INFINITY easily enough. I changed the age and gender of the main character. The original book had a lot of strong female characters, so I thought it would be a cinch. A month into the process I learned how wrong I was.
Not surprisingly, healthy young women like my daughter and her friends don't find the same things funny or interesting as this sardonic midlife male. In the book, the protagonist is stuck with an antagonistic character throughout the story arch. The things that are barely appropriate for a twisted adult aren't suitable for youthful minds.
The story arch needed changing. Looking at the books my daughter is interested in, I saw that DAY AFTER INFINITY needed a shift from a slower-paced thought-provoking saga to a faster pace, more personal story.
Now, months later, I'm still working on the rewrite. Instead of a 130,000-word beast of a manuscript, with too many swear words, the new version is around 70,000 words. The underlying principle is similar, and the name is the same, but nearly everything else has changed.
The book is better for the changes. I have no doubt of that. Equally importantly, I learned a lot during the process. One of the things I learned is that it is easier to write a new book than to completely redo an existing book. It is so hard to give up the things you loved about the original. It is hard to forget the prior plot lines and personality traits.
After this book, I think I'll bounce back and forth between writing books for my son and daughter. The goal is to have both of them like the books, but emphasize the likes of each one a little more with each one.
For me, it is important that my stories have strong male and female characters. All too often my illness leaves me weak, unable to be the rock they want and need. If I can impart lessons and morals through fictional characters, perhaps my writing will be strong for me. Completing these books gives me purpose and shows my kiddos that even when times are hard, it is possible to keep going.