Recycling

I wrote more than 7000 words this week!

Well, ok, that’s not quite true. My draft grew by more than 7000 words, but I recycled several scenes from previous versions of this book. I don’t mean copy-and-paste; I did some light editing and a fair amount of revision to make my old scenes fit into this new draft. Still, there are whole paragraphs that survived the transition nearly intact.

I have mixed feelings about this.

On the one hand, if I’d already written and polished a scene in a previous iteration of this book, isn’t it logical to reuse it instead of rewriting a nearly-identical scene from scratch?

On the other hand, the whole point of the draft I’m currently writing is that my old versions of the book didn’t work. I went off on a lot of tangents and was lacking a tightly-strutured plot. It seems easier now, but maybe reusing old scenes is just putting a bunch of extra, unnecessary words into this draft, which I’ll just end up cutting later. I’m already at 65 000 words and I’m only half-way through the story, so I certainly don’t want any scenes to be longer than necessary!

When I started working on this draft of my novel, I intended to write the whole thing over from the beginning. I knew I’d be keeping some of the same events and scenes, but they were often positioned earlier or later within the narrative, and I planned to change some key details. By starting from scratch, I figured I could maintain momentum and help ensure that the whole novel held together, as a whole.

I tried. Really, I did. But I couldn’t resist going back and looking at previous versions of scenes, and sometimes those earlier versions were pretty good! At this point, I’ve adopted a fairly pragmatic attitude about recycling images and scenes from my old work. This draft is a palimpsest, the new scenes mingled with the old. Hopefully I’m succeeding at fusing them all into a coherent whole.