I once read that unless you are a writer who writes “for yourself”, you will rewrite your work. To say this is true is an understatement.
To date I have written thirteen novels, I have almost finished a fourteenth, and they have all been (or all will be) rewritten to within an inch of their lives. Changes can include plot and character tweaks, adding or cutting words, removal of redundancies, revising poor sentence structure, bad grammar, misspellings and even on occasion the excision of accidentally offensive material. In one novel I wrote, there was a made-up word that someone kindly pointed out to me was in fact not made up, but a very offensive term to a certain major religion. Needless to say, I invented another word!
It is very gratifying when people read and like my work, especially if they enjoy a particular plot point, theme or character detail that only emerged after several rewrites. All the hard work suddenly becomes worthwhile.
On the other hand, there have been times when I’ve been guilty of “overwriting”, because I’m too close to the material. Too much revision and tinkering can be disastrous. I end up losing my nerve and cutting sections that were really good. One novel suffered particularly in this respect, and this year I am planning on restoring it to its earlier glory. That said, no doubt along the way I’ll find other things that bother me about it that need rewriting.
Despite all this, once a book is in print, it really is too late to change it. And that is why I rewrite. And rewrite. And rewrite…