My new edits are hard. This new book is totally different from The Mailbox. Mailbox was a light, fun beach read love story. And because I wrote these books back to back I carried that breezy beachy feel into this new story when I started writing it. But it's not a breezy beach book. Though the characters do go to the beach for a weekend at one point in the book, that's where the similarities end.
The problem, I have realized as I've battled through these edits in recent weeks, is that I merely skimmed the surface of the story. I did write the story from beginning to middle to end. My character did begin the story one way and went through a transformation as the story progressed. According to a checklist, I accomplished the mandates of fiction, at the bare minimum.
But I needed to dive below the surface. I needed to go deeper. Deeper into who the characters are, what their wounds are, what motivates them. In this case it isn't enough to just tell a fun story. I have to expose their vulnerabilities, which means I've got to expose a few of my own.
If you stay on the surface, it feels safer. To go deeper within the characters requires going deeper within yourself, as a writer and as a human being. But some stories-- most stories, I would venture-- require depth. As writers we should mine the depths of what we have to offer each and every time. That's what I am learning from these edits. I can stay on the surface and be a good writer. Or I can dig deeper and be a great writer.
I am learning as I go, digging as deeply as it requires and finding surprising reserves waiting when I do. It's not comfortable to dig deeper, but it makes for a much more compelling story.