The last time I edited a story called Remote I almost cried.
Not in that ‘omg this is the best thing ever’ sort of crying but ugly crying tears of self-loathing. There’s little chance I was wrong. The story itself had problems from the start, the essence of a first draft of course. But this story…nothing worked.
From start to finish this story was a problem. In my aggravated mind, I realized the real problem with this story was its base theme. There was no sense of redemption. No sense of any sort of thing that made sense that the characters did. In the way of Indiana Jones & Raiders of the Lost Ark, the main character was meaningless to the events of the novel.
(I’m only taking that road because I’ve convinced myself of)
Remote was to be the continuation of Erstwhile, part 2 of my SinSlinger novel series. I was writing under my pseudonym and was wallowing in obscurity. Happy as ever. I had written Erstwhile as a love letter to my fandom friends. It was an alternate universe of Weird West, with a plot of betrayal and redemption. It came easy to me, that book. I flew through it.
I finished it in record time. I thought I loved it. I was sure that I did. What wasn’t to love? It was dark and twisted and a sure-fire continuation.
Until I realized one very big problem with it when I cracked it open to edit it after six weeks of letting it vegetate.
It was huge for a market novel. It had 85 chapters in its first draft. Well over 200,000 words. Oops.
The problem with writing something that large is that when it comes to editing, you tire yourself out. There’s a lot of components to editing. Not all are fun either.
I sat down to edit it for the first draft, to scour and look for something ‘fixable’. I started that January 2016.
It took me to January 2017 to finish the second editing pass. By then I was utterly exhausted. The story sucked so much out of me. I had bits and bobs of useable things but I felt as if there were too many problems with it. So I started to scour it again. I scrubbed and polished at that novel until I was too tired to cope with it again.
That took me another year. Another year lost to trying to fix what I realized was something that I was in danger of touching too much.
Then I shelved it. It bothered me to do so but I needed to. I needed to step away from it. So I did.
Then, one day on WattPad, to the delight of my couple of readers who loved Erstwhile, I released it to the wild. I let it go.
Even knowing the errors that the story held, I still let it go.
Eventually, even with stories you fight with, you have to let them go. Authors need to let go. That is so hard, especially when you are fighting as much as I was. I did a ton of rewrites, tore out chunks and passages I thought were brilliant. I killed off excess characters. I sacrificed any sense of length for a tighter plot.
In some ways, Remote is not as straightforward as Erstwhile. The story twists and bends, furious as a rollercoaster, and comes to its own conclusions.
There was a side effect to Remote that I hadn’t planned on. It put me off of writing Sinslinger books for a while. I hadn’t planned for it to take that long and by the time the editing process was done I declared myself done as well.
One day I will return to the Range but that day isn’t anywhere in the future for me. The series itself needs finishing and completion of the arcs, but not today.
Sometimes you have to let things go. Sometimes you need to step away from the projects that no longer give you any sense of pleasure. Mine was the Sinslinger series.
Because sometimes, just sometimes, you find something that will give you greater joy.
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