I published my first book in 2010. A Blue So Dark--a story of the intersection of art and mental illness, told by a young girl caring for a schizophrenic mother.
The rights reverted, and I'm now in the midst of a re-release.Which also means a potential rewrite.
Really, it's my own biggest internal conflict, as a writer: when to let go of a project, when to tinker some more. It's really hard to figure out, sometimes, when a project is done.
Now, here I am, with a book I wrote more than a decade ago. I've changed, as a writer. So how far down do I pierce into the work? And, no, it really doesn't help that the book got some good reviews and won a few awards. In fact, it only complicates matters.
So: what's the strategy? What do I most wish I could re-do here? Is it simply a matter of bringing the book forward a decade?
After a few brainstorming sessions (read: a few months of about a jillion different brainstorming sessions, and tons of conflicted feelings about the whole thing), I came up with this. The one thing I'd like to tackle in this book. The one thing I think would make a difference, without destroying the core of the book--the parts that are responsible for the starred review and the IPPY gold medal:
Take out the cussing.
That probably sounds silly. Empty. And there's a definite case for the occasional, well-placed swear. During moments of intense fear or pain or anger, people aren't going to not swear.
It's everywhere in Blue. I mean everywhere. Beyond being a reflection of how realistic teens talk. It's...
Well. In short, in Blue, I think it's lazy writing.
I'm only about seventy pages in, and I've already found that having to remove the swear words is bringing characters and feelings and--yes, even conflict--further to the front.
It's fascinating how one seemingly unimportant aspect can (when used extensively) have a pretty profound impact on a book.
Holly Schindler is the critically acclaimed author of books for readers of all ages. She is currently preparing for a re-release of her first YA, A Blue So Dark.