Why Rewriting Takes So Long
It's a funny old job, being a writer.
Sometimes it's like flying; sometimes like pulling teeth. Sometimes it's like playing an endless game of "let's pretend". And sometimes it's like trying to put together a three dimensional jigsaw puzzle -- disturb one piece and the whole edifice comes crashing down.
Little do editors and other commentators realise the havoc they can wreak with their helpful suggestions. Recently one reader of my WIP suggested setting the action in a real small town in central Victoria which spookily matches the description of the fictional village in the manuscript. Great idea, embedding the story firmly in a real landscape (which is an important element of the book).
But -- if they live in X, why doesn't my protagonist go to the real high school there? Why doesn't her mother work at the real hospital in town, instead of miles away? The nearest regional centre is now an hour and a half away, rather than the conveniently fuzzy "about an hour" of the (fictional) big town in the original version. There's a real footy club, with its own colours and rivalries, different from the ones I invented. Where is the war memorial in this town? Where is the football ground? Every time my protagonist goes for a walk, I have to adjust my mental geography.
It's a fine line between adhering to reality and letting the edges blur, and everyone draws that line in a different place. I have no problem creating a fictional family to be the stalwarts of the footy club or the major landowners of the district, nor with shifting trees and even lakes around to suit my story, but it nags at me that Sadie's bus ride to school is now way too long. I think I might send her to the local school after all. But then I need to invent a plausible reason for her to meet her mum in the big town... And that conversation in chapter 7 doesn't make sense any more... But if I change that, I have to change that scene in the restaurant...
And the dominoes topple, one by one. You just have to have faith that when you've patiently picked them all up and fitted them back together, it makes something better than what you started with.
PS If you're interested, there is a thoughtful discussion of Winter of Grace here. Thank you, Lizbee.