The individual spark from draft 0 through version 20

I’m an intuitive writer. When working on a creative project, I begin with a seed idea and then it grows from there. I can’t tell you what that seed always is. Sometimes it’s a voice in my head, sometimes an image clearer than a photograph, sometimes a vague notion of an action I’d like to explore. It’s not predictable. What I find more consistent across projects is that draft 0 can be a wildly different story than version 20. During the rewrites, I swap out scenes with new ones, delete or collapse characters into fewer sets, and twist the story into weirder shapes.

This reminds me of the idea that the human body regenerates about every 15 years or so. Tissues seem to do this at varying rates, but your current body is probably about 15 years old. So if the human body switches out cells over time while the individual spark of consciousness remains the same, then what spark travels across my story versions? What remains constant, or does anything? Why did I cut out or rewrite sections? Am I discovering something about myself in this process? Maybe what I once thought mattered no longer does, and yet, I’ve grown through the process.

I still think in terms of “I,” even though I’m not the same person I was a decade ago, and in a similar way, the story somehow keeps its individuality though it has changed.