Have you ever seen those mosaics made from broken china? (Besides in the picture to the left, I mean.) People use them for garden stones, patio table tops, and other decorative purposes They’re really quite beautiful, not to mention it’s a great way of recycling a dish that might be chipped and otherwise useless. Still, there’s something I find sort of unsettling about smashing apart an object that’s relatively whole and lovely, even if you’re making something new out of it. Call me crazy, but I’d miss what it used to be at least a little.
I mentioned recently that I had to rewrite a certain chapter in my manuscript. That ordeal reminded me very much of the process of making mosaics. Somehow it felt aggressive to me, like I was shattering something I loved into sharp, little bits and creating more of a mess than anything. I didn’t really want to do it, but I knew I had to. Ironically, I had to destroy something that was, in a sense, chipped or cracked in order to create something new and better.
When this comparison came to mind, I watched a couple Youtube videos to see how it’s done. Technically, you don’t smash a dish in order to prepare the pieces. There’s actually a tool for breaking chunks off. It’s still not very precise, but that’s part of the charm of it. The result is pieces that are all different shapes and sizes that can be arranged in an entirely new way. See where I’m going with this?
So I broke apart my chapter and decided which shards I needed to preserve and which had to be discarded (sniffle). Then I fit some brand new pieces into the spaces. And to my surprise, I think they actually fit better than the story chunks that were there before. The whole feel of the scene was very different. It maintained the important details and accomplished the same purpose, but the overall picture was superior to the original in many ways.
Now, after filling in the seams with metaphorical grout, I’m doing the final polishing. And I’m looking forward to doing a complete read through to see how the new and improved chapter flows with the rest of the story.
On my sister’s blog, she recently used the analogy of sewing a quilt to explain her rewriting process. What about you? Have you had to rewrite any major scenes lately? What would you compare your process to?