Friday, 21 September 2012

Rewriting My Lost Words

A metaphorical depiction of what happened inside my hard drive ...
Some of you may recall that I went on a writing retreat without internet access last month, and very sadly lost the last 25,000 words of my Tudor Witch novel - unbacked-up, as they would normally be at home - when my Mac hard drive died irrevocably.

Since hearing the news last week that none of the last third of the book would be coming back to me, I've been engaged in rewriting those lost words.

It's hard and often depressing work, for I'm not always sure I'm recreating the wonderful excitement and urgency of that first white-hot draft. However, this may not be entirely a bad thing. The first draft was written at such astonishing pace - over 7000 words per day was not unusual on retreat - that I did suspect, even in the process of writing it, that I was rushing the end of the book. But I knew it would be fixable even if the pace was too hurried. Far harder to speed up a novel when it's dragging than slow down a too-hurried scene.

So now I'm rewriting the same scenes, more slowly and with greater consideration for pace and character development. The sense of deja-vu is extreme at times. In media res, I often stop and frown, thinking 'What was the phrase I used for that?' and almost turn to look it up. Only then realising, of course, that the file on which that half-forgotten phrase, that line, that chapter, that draft, has been lost forever in a hard drive which may perhaps have wiped everything in the act of breaking.

A hard task, then. Heartbreaking occasionally. But a salutary lesson to me, at least to keep a USB pen handy if I have no internet access for automatic back-ups.

And perhaps the finished novel will be better for it. Who knows?

10,000 left to write. 

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