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March IWSG Day Question: Have you ever pulled out a really old story and reworked it? Did it work out?

Yes! That’s exactly what I’ve been doing in February.

After I reworked my theme for this year’s A to Z Challenge, I realised that I really wanted to talk about how Faerie was as Saphira knew it when she left and how (also why) it changed to be what it is today.

So I dragged out a box filled with notes, notebooks, binders, USBs, sketches and a few cobwebs and daddy long legs.

Surprisingly the only spider I don’t run away from screaming.

Surprisingly the only spider I don’t run away from screaming.

This box was started nine years ago, just after I’ve figured out that writing contemporary YA and women’s fiction in Afrikaans wasn’t for me.

I’ll admit that I never liked fairies. Seeing as Tinkerbell was all I associated with the term, who can blame me?

The new movies aren’t bad, but I still don’t like her.

The new movies aren’t bad, but I still don’t like her.

Not knowing which genre I should pursue after my two failed novels, I browsed through a local bookshop. I knew that I liked the premise of Harry Potter – the whole world within our world thing. And though I annually reread The Lord of the Rings trilogy, I wasn’t up for full-out epic fantasy like that.

And then I saw this book.

The edition of

The edition of “Tithe” by Holly Black I found in my local bookstore.

Back then my English was basic, good enough to be understood, but a little lacking at times… I had to use a dictionary to understand the title. Which just made it better in my mind. (I love my dictionaries… but that’s a post for another time.)

I read this story about faeries, read the notes at the start of each chapter alluding to folklore from days gone by, enjoyed the word-play and appreciated the use of myth and imagination.

I had found something that finally interested me as a writer.

And after a dream of heather, mist and mountains… Mm, let’s just say that I knew then that I wanted to create my own Faerie with folklore creatures reimagined.

That’s where the old box comes in.

I’d done one writing course and thought I knew everything about writing. (Yeah, we’ve all been there.) I immediately wrote the stories whirling in my head. I made notes. I wrote basic outlines for stories, thinking that I’ll finish them once I have time. I wrote four Middle Grade novels (let’s not get into sending them off to agents, the rejections or the manuscript appraisals and rewrites). And one day the spark just fizzled out. I boxed it all up – including stories that I’ve half-written at the beginning – and decided to start fresh on a new series. Faerie still crept into that story, despite my best intentions…

Anyhow, in January 2017 I decided that I’m going to dust off all my old stories and get them ready for publication (mostly short pieces for magazines and the like). That’s when I came across a short piece on my hard-drive titled “The Story of the Galno”. It’s an origin story for one of the important Fae races in Faerie. It was also one of the half-written pieces from way back.

Reading it, I immediately wanted to rewrite and edit it. I knew with my new skills attained with a lot of writing I could turn this hot mess into something readable and enjoyable.

And I did.

It took the best part of February, but I rewrote it and translated it to Afrikaans. It even hints to how the Labyrinth came to be. I couldn’t be happier with the outcome.

The Afrikaans version of the three stories (yeah, one story had turned into three) is already available on INK: Skryf in Afrikaans and the English stories will be published on this blog during the A to Z Challenge.

Though insecurity had almost made me recycle that box (thankfully the part of me that believes in reusing things saved it) and though years have passed since I’ve even thought about this half-written story, I’ve not only reworked it into something I’ve hoped at that time it would be, I’ve even regained some of that old spark to write about Faerie…

How about you: have you ever reworked an old story? Do you have a box filled with old ideas and spiders? Which book opened you up to what you write now? Did insecurity ever cause you to destroy your writing?

holly-black-iwsg-writing-quote

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