It occurred to me the other night as I was trying to fall asleep that my Madison novel still starts in the wrong place. As in, it starts about three chapters into the book I've written.
I thrust the thought aside. I didn't trust the thought. I've been in a dark mood lately, and Madison is very much a lighthearted book despite the darker elements Madison fights. Was this thought a reflection of my mood and not true to what the novel needed? Plus, I've been rushing from project to project as the muse wills, working on plots and scenes and characters for two different novels, writing notes for a third. Any of these books could have spilled over into that section of my head earmarked for Madison. I didn't even know if was the pace of another novel talking or perhaps my impatience in general. Was this a byproduct of perfectionism, the idea that a story could always be improved, or worse, procrastination in the guise of something "necessary"? Or, it could have been just a wayward sleepy thought.
The next day I sat down to edit Madison. I've been editing from beginning to end, one final pass for perfection. I was about twenty pages into it and still not to the point where this insistent new thought was demanding the book really started. The thought wouldn't go away. I flipped ahead. I flipped back. I would need to rearrange at least three major scenes, delete out all kinds of stuff that I liked (little details about Madison, her parents, Mr. Bond—details that were really more important for me to know than the reader), and rework the timeline. It wasn't going to be the (semi)quick edit I'd planned on.
I took a deep breath, let it out slowly, and then I began my third major overhaul of the novel's beginning.