My husband and I were a little upset that she had altered the doll only hours after we had opened the package. These dolls are not cheap. My little daughter didn’t realize that the marker wouldn’t come off and tried to put on a brave front, but I could tell she really wanted me to fix the doll.
I tried everything I could think of. Soap and water, rubbing alcohol, oxy clean, Mr. Clean’s magical eraser, and fingernail polish remover. None of these products had any effect whatsoever on marker. But I wasn't ready to give up. At this point, I did what anyone would do when facing a problem they can’t solve. I went to the internet.
Of course my daughter was not the first to mar the face of a Monster High doll with marker, and smarter people than me have found a solution, one I would’ve never come up with on my own. Oxy-10, that over the counter acne medicine contains a bleaching agent, 10 % benzoyl peroxide that can be activated in direct sunlight. Now this wouldn’t have worked if my daughter’s doll was any color other than white because it might bleach away the face color as well. We were lucky.
I covered the doll’s hair with tinfoil and her eyes so that the sun wouldn’t fade away those colors, put Oxy-10 on the marker lines, and set the doll in a window for one week. After a week, here is the result.
I was amazed how well the treatment worked, but clearly we missed a few spots. So I repeated the process for another week, and the doll looked awesome.
There are still some faint yellow marks, and we could’ve gone another round, but my daughter had been without her new doll for two weeks, so we decided it was good enough. At some point, I might try another round. But I was so pleased with how well this worked. I really thought the doll was unfixable, but with a little research and a little time (well a lot of time for a five-year-old girl), we fixed her.
Now, what does this have to do with writing?
I know that a lot of first time writers are cautioned against getting stuck on their first book. I’ve seen the warning many times on the internet to not get trapped into constant revisions, that you can learn more from writing a new story. And I do think that that is good advice for some situations, but I also think that any story is fixable. It might take a lot of time and effort maybe even a complete rewrite or two, but no story is beyond repair.
I'm not the type of person who can walk away from a problem even if it is difficult or even seemingly impossible. I don't like to be defeated by markers on dolls or a story that I just can't figure out how to end. I know that any problem can be solved in some way.
If I know what is wrong with my story and if I have an idea of how to fix it and if I love the story and believe in it and am still excited about it, I’m not ready to give up. It might take a lot of time, a lot of research, a lot of thought. I may have to rewrite the entire thing maybe even more than once, but I don’t like to give up on something that I believe in.
I know not every writer is like me, that some writers are more instinctive and have a million ideas floating around in their heads and will probably learn faster writing a story once and then moving on to something new, and those writers need to do what is best for them.
But I think there are also writers like me. Who have these stories that for some reason they feel really passionate about. And it isn’t that they want to write stories, but that they want to write these specific stories. I don’t think that these writers should give up on those stories even if they have horrible pacing or poor characterization or are anticlimactic or just don’t work for some reason. These stories are fixable; all stories are fixable. But only the writer can decide if that story is worth the time and energy to fix it.