Stephanie Burgis
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Yesterday, on the way back from a cold, windy walk across the top of a long hill, a friend said something that totally threw me. We were talking about rewrites, because I just started the 4th draft of Masks & Shadows, and she's just about to start the newest draft of her own novel (due to be published later this year). I was talking about how hard I find the rewrite process, how grim and difficult it is. And she stopped walking, looked at me, and asked: "Why?"

"Well..." I stumbled for a second. I mean, everyone knows it's hard, right? Finally, I said, "Well, it's just so much pressure, trying to make it better, knowing that it's still not quite good enough..."

"Huh." She frowned. "What if you didn't try to make it better? What if you concentrated on having fun?"

Fun? What is this 'fun' you speak of, Earth Woman?

"What if you sat down and revised it thinking, 'how could I make this even more fun? How could I have even more fun with this scene?'"

I thought about it, as the wind buffeted us. And then I said: "Huh."

I didn't do any more rewriting last night. I was tired and cranky--for one thing, I just found out that I'll be having a mole sliced off my back tomorrow morning, which is never good news--and just in the wrong mood to even contemplate fun of any kind. Instead, I read the latest issue of The Third Alternative and, very lightly and casually, thought about what she'd suggested. And I realized that, every time I'd sat down to revise or even thought about revising, my shoulders froze into an ear-hugging hunch so tight the muscles might just shatter if anyone bumped them.

So this morning, I started again. I sat down. Very casually, I read through the new material I'd added to the novel. The good news is, I think I like it. Then I started reading on into the second quarter of the novel, very casually. Just dreaming my way through the scenes, wondering what else I hadn't thought of that would be a neat touch in each scene. And I hit pay dirt. Suddenly, I was imagining every scene much more vividly. I was getting into the characters' heads again, for the first time since I started this draft. And--by a lovely karmic coincidence--I also found a huge batch of old notes buried under my desk, pages and pages of research I'd scribbled down last year and then forgotten about. Details of 18th-century clothing, Haydn's opera house, the musicians' quarters, everything! It was amazing. And y'know what? It was actually fun.

So I'm tentatively beginning to enjoy this rewrite process. Who'd've thought it? :)

I also experimented with pear muffins yesterday afternoon, as comfort for the whole mole-removal thing. (I know, I know, lots of people have it done and it's no big deal--but I don't like the whole idea of a knife slicing through any part of my skin!) Sadly, they didn't work out so well.

Anyone know any good recipes for pear muffins?

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