I just picked up a copy of my book (draft, not published, obvs, or else I would totally be at a booksigning and have air conditioning in my car) from a friend who was sweet enough to read and give me beta feedback on it. And I've seen enough critiques that I can read between the lines: basically, she liked it, it was entertaining and well-written, but that was all. There was no "this sticks with me" factor. A lot of her comments were "I love this paragraph, I wish more of the book was like this!" on the sections of the book that were more emotional and compelling.
Which is fine.
The first draft of this book was a f*cking hot mess of emotional vomit re: The Road Trip which I chronicled as I was going through it; before I rewrote it I sat on it for a year and a half in order to get enough distance from it. It needed cleaning. Over the summer I cut everything that wasn't strictly plot-relevant, rewrote it all in the past tense, and turned it into an actual story with a real plot.
But I've had a sinking sort of feeling lately that in doing that, I also cut a lot of the emotional urgency out of it. And this copy with my friend's notes confirms it.
The first draft made a different friend depressed for four days after reading it because she was dealing with the same issues in her life. I wasn't glad it upset her so much, but I was glad that my writing had that kind of emotional resonance.
This is supposed to be a story about how I went from being a lost 21-year old who thought the men in my life could give me the answers I needed to being a self-contained, if still somewhat blurry-edged, woman who knew that whatever I wanted I had to bring myself.
But now, it's just kind of a story about a road trip I went on.
Which is fun.
But it's not the story that I had needed to tell. It's not the one I want to give to my friend's sister-in-law, a lost eighteen year-old who isn't quite sure how to handle all the changes in her life.
So, obviously I have to rewrite it. And somehow, four years later, I have to find a way to reintegrate the pain and frustration of not knowing who I was, and also the joy and heartache of figuring it out, into a perfectly functional draft.
IS THERE ANYONE OUT THERE WHO ACTUALLY KNOWS HOW TO DO THIS?!!