My four-month 'remix' of my first Kelley Wilde horror novel, The Suiting, took an unexpected toll. Now that the book's been formatted and is about to be launched, I can better understand why the ordeal was so rough. It's a short story, but one that may help you if you consider reworking something you wrote long ago. My little tale may help you even more if your book's a horror novel.
Here were the things I'd prepared for as I set out to tackle my 25th Anny Edition:
--I needed to retype the complete novel, since I'd written it years before I got my first computer. Though I might have had the published copy scanned and converted into a Word Doc, I wanted to compel myself to pay attention to each word.
--I'd had stylistic quirks back than--especially an over-reliance on ellipses (or leader dots). I was very proud of mine and thought they made me unique. But I knew now they had to go...and that meant the slaughter of thousands of dots. I also needed to address my excessive use of different type fonts rather than making the words do the work.
--Though my style was quick, it was often unclear and, damn it, too circular: I'd start a strong scene, wander off on a couple of tangents, then come back to the narrative point. But over the past 25 years I'd learned to write more clearly and in a more linear fashion. And I wanted to bring these new skills to my book.
Oh, there were lots of other things I knew I could do to improve that first book and bring it into a new era. You'd be right, though, if you said: Hey, man, that's rewriting--it goes with the job. But for two reasons the rewrite still tore me apart:
1) The remix entailed time travel to my life in 1986, when I first began the book, and the two years that led its publication. A time of enormous confusion and pain. Nor was this a casual trip to the past--no, I lived there for four months, dealing daily with old ghosts and memories of miserable moments of shame. Enough said. Prepare for this: you don't just get to tidy up a book this old...you get to go through hell again.
2) Horror shouldn't be a cakewalk. And I don't want mine trendy or written to make easy bucks. It should be grounded in real fear and pain. So don't expect your friends to find you a barrel of laughs while you suffer old nightmares for months on end.
End note: The original plan had been to reissue each of the remaining Kelley Wilde novels on its own 25th anny. I'll have to give that a little more thought. No more retyping from scratch, that's for sure!