According to the timestamp of the text file that contains the first chapter of my novel, I began my journey of writing on the 10th of August in 2010. Nearly two and a half years have passed since then, and I have yet to complete the novel. Granted, much of that time was spent learning more about writing and tending to my academics. Nonetheless, I returned to my novel with fresh eyes and was horrified at what I saw.
I have come far in my two years of learning the craft of the novelist. My views on writing have not changed much, but my respect for techniques and the technical tools of a writer have appreciated. As such, I look back on my novel and see things that are poorly written, and even cringeworthy. Some passages sounded embarrassingly unreal. I read it aloud and thought to myself, “Did I really think that was good enough?” I read through a large portion of the 89,000 words that I wrote and decided that there was so much that needed work that I would likely have to rewrite the entire novel, so that I could keep a consistent and cohesive feel and tone to the entire book.
But it is not just the technical aspects of my novel that need change. Through my education and my continual exposure to new ideas and philosophies, my thinking has deepened and my views have become more nuanced. Whereas the novel I first set out to write was, in retrospect, a one-note song, the new novel that I envision in my mind is more complex. The tone of the novel was, in its beginning stages, depressing and flat, a reflection of my mood at the time. But now I wish to impart a different emotional experience to the reader. I now have a clearer vision of what exactly I wish the reader to feel and think, something that came with time and experience.
Over time, I kept wanting to add more and more themes to the novel, but I didn’t have the sophistication to weave it into the narrative. Now, with improved writing skills and a keener eye for thematic analysis, I can better implement the undercurrents into my novel.
It is a long road ahead. Starting over is not easy. But the 89,000 words I have already written are not a waste. Far from it. It was much needed writing. It served the necessary purpose of being my learning experience. What I had written will still largely remain intact in the rewriting of my novel, at least in spirit. The narrative structure has not changed, nor has the story arc. Instead, I am re-examining the way the story is being told and the goal of my novel. And, with any luck, it will turn out even better than it was.