What to do with a ten-year-old story?

Ten years ago, I wrote a love story. I re-read it today and it was unbearable.

When I was a younger lesbian, I wanted to write That Ultimate Lesbian Love Story — one that would encompass fully what it was like to be a girl who was in love with another girl.

Merely looking at that goal, of course, it was clear that I was setting myself up for failure. However, that didn’t stop me from trying. My trope of choice: Childhood best friends to lovers.

That was in 2007, a sort of prolific year — I wrote a lot and some of them were short stories, and many of them featured friends who eventually found themselves in confusing love affairs with each other.

My favorite at the time was called ‘Mnemonics’ — a story about this girl who falls in love with her classmate in General Science. It gets dorky in parts, and there’s a bicycle metaphor somewhere, and all considered, I was very in love with that story. Whenever someone asked me to refer them to a story I wrote, I would send them ‘Mnemonics’ and I generally got good feedback for it.

In between, life happened — I got busy with work, I went back to school, I was into too many things all at once. Alas, I stopped writing love stories and focused on writing research papers and work-related output instead.

When I quit my job toward the end of last year, I found myself with a few weeks to spare and I decided I would put together a few of my old stories and try to self-publish as an experiment. Of course, this meant that I had to re-read those stories and edit them.

When I started re-reading ‘Mnemonics’, which was going to be the carrier title, I was aghast — the ten-year-old story was now, at best, unreadable.

What happened?

In its original form, ‘Mnemonics’ was written in second person — an old love, if you will. I was so in love with it that I glossed over the difficulties the second person POV presented to the structure and the clarity of the piece in general.

Letting go of the second person POV and shifting it to a third person POV is at the core of this rewrite project. It wasn’t going to be a simple skim and replace operation — it was going to be major surgery.

And this is going to be the OR viewing room, so to speak.


Every week I’ll be posting an ongoing edit of ‘Mnemonics’ and comment a little on the process, maybe add a bit of back story. We shall see. =)

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