I hate rewriting. I really strongly dislike it. A lot. I like writing something, editing it a bit, cleaning it up, and then saying, “there; it’s done.” But sometimes things don’t work quite like that. Sometimes you write something that’s as good as you can make it at the time, but it doesn’t get traction, or you’re just not satisfied with it because you just don’t think you can reach that piece’s potential from where you are right then.
And yet I’m in the process of rewriting something right now. Not a story. A website. I wrote my website back in 2009, using the HTML chops that I had at the time, which were pretty poor. And it shows. It’s not quite pretty, and while it’s functional enough, editing it, especially adding to it, is painfully slow, especially if it’s something that I want to add to every page. It’s also not the most skillful site you’ve ever seen when looking at the source. In fact, what you can see right now if you visit my website is something that still uses tables for layout. Tables.
And so I started rewriting it. Because I’d never really been satisfied with the site, and all the little fixes I’d done in the past were just patches that didn’t address the underlying problems, but I didn’t want to spend any more time on it right then because I needed to improve first. I knew, before, that I couldn’t really fix it because I didn’t quite know how.
That new site will be online sometime soon, and although it won’t look hugely different from what’s up right now, it will be a whole lot more polished, and for me, it will be a whole lot easier to work with when I need to make updates.
Rewriting a story I think is a lot like that. The shape of the story doesn’t necessarily change that much, but the way that it comes together is much more refined. It’s still sometimes frustrating, doing so much work to end up pretty much right back where you were when you started, but if you don’t do the work, you can’t improve.