Ahh, the question I both love and dread, "Are you still writing 'that book?'"
Yes, Good Reader, I am indeed still writing that book. I'm terrible with updates so I thought today I'd let you know how it's been going. I just finished up rewriting the first two chapters in first person with a protagonist now a decade younger than she once was. Hurray! Happy dance!
The thing is, I had tricked myself into thinking that this revision would mostly require careful switches from "she" to "I", changing the protagonist's job to a summer internship before college, and then one major plot point about 3/4 in. I mean, an agent and editor had already told me that my writing lent itself well to young adult, so these little tweaks were all I needed, right?
Oh, how wrong I was!
Almost every single sentence in the novel is brand new. The major things that I kept were the names of characters and the basic plot and pacing.
The most crucial aspect of the revision has been my main character Maggie's personality and outlook on life. It goes without saying that a seventeen-year-old has a very different perspective on life than a twenty-seven-year-old (even a particularly pragmatic and cautious seventeen-year-old, like Maggie). She hasn't had all that time to become jaded and resigned to her lot in life. She's frustrated but still hopeful. I like her a lot.
In a way, I feel relieved. It's like I'm rewriting history: Maggie's adventure begins ten years earlier, so she never becomes the woman I once wrote about.
Oddly, her relationship to her sister hasn't changed much despite the fact that now Rory is the older sister, not the younger one.
The tricky part of this revision is that sometimes I sit down to write and I forget that Maggie is seventeen, that I am now writing about her before she could fall in love with that guy in college who is never going to love her enough not to take that job in Seattle, before she could give up on her dreams of changing the world. It's like writing in an alternate universe.
My next challenge is a major plot point: memory loss. When I was writing about a responsible adult, the memory loss was upsetting but not truly scary. Maggie was self possessed, practical. She could take care of herself. But how do I deal with memory loss for a seventeen-year-old?
Because of the circumstances of the novel, the reader could (wrongly) fear that Maggie has been the victim of date rape. I don't want to romanticize memory loss but neither do I want to bog down the plot with lecturing. I can feel the latent mother in me worrying about what kind of "message" I'm sending to my future readers. For the moment I'm mulling it over, trying to see if I can tweak the plot enough to address the seriousness of the situation while also reassuring the reader that Maggie's quest to recover her memories is going to reveal something exciting, not something terrifying.
Anyway, that's how "that book" is going. Thanks for asking, for wondering, for caring!