I met with a friend the other day to talk about our publishing experiences, which in many ways were so similar. We both got our first novels accepted by major publishers without sending them out time and again, in fact the FIRST time sent out was the charm.
We also talked about how we currently felt stuck. She has just completed a second novel that her agent has sent out but the novel did not find its home. She would like to begin a new novel, but has not gotten past chapter one.
For my part, I "finished" A Generous Absence two years ago, then I had to move, then adjust to being in a new, temporary place etc., etc. My agent from CTL looked at the novel but did not want to represent it. It was a proposed trilogy for one thing and they are, unless they are genre fiction, hard to place.
I reread the novel the other day and now feel I can begin to revise it and reshape it. I worked so hard on perfecting the language and structure of the original version that it is hard to think of destroying all that to rework it. But, hey, what do I have to lose but time?
I will cut an entire character, Leslie, and the 100 or so pages that involve him. This will leave me with maybe 200 pages if I'm lucky. Then I will add another 150 or so pages of new material.
Now, when you have a 300 paged manuscript, you have about a 200 paged book in print. I don't know why it shrinks down, but it does. So 300 pages is not a long book. But that's okay. I'll just begin and see what happens. Hopefully, I won't feel sick to my stomach as writing sometimes makes me feel.
It will all be easier, mechanically speaking, this time as this will be the first time I've written/rewritten a novel in the computer. Before, it was the typewriter and I had to retype a page each time I revised it. Not necessarily a bad thing, as then one reexamines each word one has written, word by word.
Anne Lamott has a lot to say about writing and rewriting in Bird by Bird. The article this link takes you too also lists, at the end, a number of other great books on writing, all of which I've read. Take a peek.