It’s one that has required a LOT of restructuring and Frankensteining, flesh-sculpting and strong-arming – in fact, to a level that I don’t normally have to go with my stories. This isn’t boasting – it’s purely because, generally, stories appear to me whole. Or at least whole enough for me to fill in the blanks with relative ease when I come to them. This story was an older one – so I could definitely see the marks of ‘prentice work on it – but I wanted to make it sing, not have it sit in a bottom drawer. It wasn’t bad, it was just different from how I write now.
The thing about re-shaping old writing is that you – or at least, I – have no real perspective about it. I can rewrite it but I don’t necessarily know if the new shape is working – it’s really difficult to fully separate yourself from the old form. This is where the value of an outside perspective comes in.
Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve gone back over it and torn it apart in a manner that would make Pinhead himself proud. Then I put it back together with putty, and glue, spackfiller and some really sticky spit, then sent it off to the expert midwifery of Lisa Hannett. I am thoroughly grateful to have someone so able and talented standing there, looking over my shoulder and saying, “Pssst, Picasso. You only need two eyes, not four, and you may want to rethink the dreadlocks on the elephant.”
I am especially, especially grateful to have someone acting as the ‘outside perspective brain’ when, at 1.30am my own brain (or the ‘enemy inside’, as I like to call it) sends me into a frenzy of doubt about what I’m going to do with the story coz BIRDS DON’T HAVE HANDS!!! And after 5 mins of thinking hard, the little voice of the part of my personality that’s been watching me chase my own intellectual tail says, ‘They have beaks and claws, eejit.’
And that, children, is when you know it’s time to finish the story, send it to Lisa, and then go to bed, safe in the knowledge that in the morning a sane brain will go over it and point out that you’ve pinned a tail on a plaid salamander and you might want to reconsider.
In conclusion, thanks, Lisa L. Hannett, you rock, and I’m too damned old for 2am writing sessions!