A Speckled Monster

It’s almost time to start the second draft. Exactly one month ago tomorrow, I put aside the first draft of my new MONSTER (a novella inspired by Edgar Allan Poe) so it could ripen. By August 31 it will be speckled like a perfect banana.

Well, not really but….

A little time between drafts is an essential ingredient in the writing process. I put the manuscript aside for an entire month and, like a green banana left on the kitchen counter, the book has ripened with the literary equivalent of little brown speckles. That means it’s time to peel it open and get back to work.

It’s not like I haven’t been writing this month. I wrote one two short stories and I started sketching out the fourth novella in the Monster series. I even began researching ideas for the fifth. This research was a welcome distraction. Every time I got that itchy POE-ish feeling that I should revisit “The Raven” or re-read “The Telltale Heart” I took a deep breath, knowing that more than a cursory glance at the original text might lure me back to my own story before it was ready to be read. At times it was almost irresistible.

Is a month long enough? I hope so. I really want to get back to my POE story. If I’ve time this correctly, I will see the flaws in the manuscript that I missed in July. I’ll also discover a new side to the principal character or a way to illuminate his motivation that didn’t occur to me the first time around. I might even add a chapter; cut a character; flesh out a description; jettison a tangent; or re-think one of my favorite passages?

Do all writers go through this?

I don’t know for sure. Some writers seem able to churn out a fantastic number of books on a regular basis. I’m a fast writer but not that fast. I also know writers hard at work on the same book for years and years. I’m not that slow. This may be a case of Goldilocks and the fruit bowl — looking for the banana that has just the right amount of brown speckles.

Wish me luck. Tomorrow I peel open my POE book.


    • Candy

      Today is the day!
      And, since this is the Friday of a big holiday weekend here, I think this will be a POE-liday weekend.

  1. Good luck with the peeling. I’d say you’ve timed it just right.Our eyes tend to glance over what we’ve written without spotting errors because we know what we expect to see. A month is a nice enough gap for us to forget that.

    • Candy

      Glad you think a month is enough. I do, but Stephen King in “On Writing” suggests six months. I have to do more than find typos I have to find the narrative flaws and make it a great read.

      Yes, I’m raising the bar for myself!

      Happy Peeling Day!

  2. I’m with David, I think a month is fine, especially as you’ve been focusing on other writing in the meantime. I suspect Stephen did not become such a prolific writer by always following his own advice! Besides, although you still ‘know’ your own story it’s amazing how quickly you can forget the details once you stop breathing them 24/7. Get in there and have fun!

    • Candy

      It’s 11am on the Friday of a big holiday weekend, so I’m printing it out now.

      Let the peeling begin….

  3. I don’t know whether or not all writers put projects on the shelf (or in the drawer) for a while, but they should. It helps so much to be able to come at a piece with fresh eyes. Too many self-published books have that feeling of being rushed, but many do not.

    • Candy

      Glad you agree. It’s funny, but I think some conventionally published books feel rushed to press too. They just have better, more professional, proof readers (most of the time).

      Fresh eyes are what my Poe-inspired novella is going to get now. I hope I’ve achieved the bleary-eyed, midnight feeling I intended. Maybe I should wait until the sunsets? Nah… if I’ve done this right, it’ll feel like midnight at 2 in the afternoon.