Sometimes, you get used to things being a certain way. Then they change, and you get used to the new way. Suddenly, any return to the way things were seems like a shock to the system, even though there’s no logical reason the old way of things should seem so unfamiliar.
Example: The cat I live with (who still looks like a furry bowling ball) has never really liked me. He used to take swipes at me with his claws whenever he could, hiss at me, and generally thwart all my attempts to be friends. Then, the other day, we got this cat-calming air-freshener plugin type thing (I know, great descriptive terms for a would-be novelist, but I’m tired) and suddenly he relaxed around me, got snuggly, and has been lovely to me for about five days. Then he hissed at me yesterday and it hit me that it seemed really harsh and unusual. A few days ago, it was the snuggling that seemed strange.
The same is true of characters, of course – they can become accustomed to a new way of things very quickly – but also of authors. When I look back at the original character outlines for The Perfect Garden, I barely recognise them. They’ve taken on new shape and form to the point where the originals seem wrong, somehow. They’re the same in essence, but the details have changed a great deal. The plot has changed too, more than I would have expected at the beginning.
I suppose if there’s a piece of writerly advice here, it’s not to fear change. Ideas evolve over time, and the more you play with them the more you’ll see them from different angles. You may find yourself looking back at a first draft and saying ‘I’ve changed everything‘. Don’t panic, when that happens. Have a look at your new normal, your latest draft. Is it better or worse? Proceed accordingly.
The cat and I had a great cuddle earlier. I like this new normal. Talk to you tomorrow!