I've started my second novel over from scratch. Given I already had nearly 200 pages on the first draft, this is pretty scary. Well, scary in the sense that I now have six months to write and edit an entire book rather than just the second half, but on the other hand, I think it's going to go a lot faster than the other one was.
You just know when a manuscript is working and when it isn't. When it is, the ideas flow (for the most part), and things seem to fit together before you even try to engineer them that way. When it doesn't work, it's like trying to jam the proverbial square peg into a round hole. I've known for a long, long time that this manuscript was one giant square peg, but I kept hammering away, thinking I could chip the corners off and make it fit. Silly me. Even when you shear off the edges, you still essentally have a square--you've just mutilated it and tried to make it into something it's not, and that's hardly the way to treat a perfectly innocent story.
So today I opened a new document and started afresh. I think it's going well, but I keep getting caught up in the details of the original draft, and forget I don't have to make them all the same in this new version. So what if six years lapsed in the first one? That was an arbitrary number when I first wrote it, I don't have to keep it if I don't want to. Yet when I try to change it, it feels like I'm altering reality, like somehow the reader is going to know I fiddled with things, so instead of going with the flow of the new version, I keep stalling and procrastinating between paragraphs. I think I just need time after each new bout of writing to get used to the new story; hopefully it is slowly replacing the memory of the original.
We'll see what happens.....