How do you choose?
After an earlier blog -- whose was that? -- and the discussion following about the number of books and short stories each of us have written, I've given it a lot of thought. Not a lot of thought about the numbers, but thought about writers such as Genene, who rework the same work until they come up with something saleable. Or at least something pleasing or satisfying.
I've thought about Shirley Karr (Man, I hope I spelled her name right). She labored away for more than 10 years on the same book, endlessly writing and rewriting until she finally sold it to Avon in a two-book deal.
It seems reworking the same book is more the exception than the rule. As someone said, take a look at the First Sales column in the RWA mag and count how many books most authors write before they finally sell. Usually many. Does that mean they write a book, try to interest an agent of editor with it, and if that doesn't work, the author moves on to another manuscript? Do you think a writer learns more by starting a new novel, fresh at the drawing board, or going back through an existing work, applying the tools they've learned since they first began writing the manuscript?
Shirley Jump thinks you learn more by starting fresh. When she was the guest author for Askanauthor, I wrote and mentioned my first ms. and rewrites I'd like to do. Her advice was to move on. She wrote six or seven books, I believe, before she sold. Her theory is that when I do sell, I will have a backlist to offer an editor.
But see, I'm not always so good at taking advice. I like to think for myself. Oh, I know, you find that hard to believe, but just ask my family. Ha! Anyway, I cannot let my first book go. Some of the characters in it won't leave me alone. I'm dying to go back, do major rewrites, and turn it into something saleable, like Genene and Shirley did with the books they believed in.
So, I'm curious. How many of you have gone back to an old manuscript or story and done major rewrites? Was it worth it? Did you learn a lot in the process? Or do you just leave finished, unsold work to gather dust in your computer files, chalk it up to experience, and move on to the exciting, fresh voices in your head of brand new characters?