I've been writing a new memoir and in the last few days have been working through the drafts of several chapters and stories within the manuscript. I love this process. Always have.
The rewriting is the most rewarding because this is where you really start to see the story unfold. Sure, as you're writing, you're meandering, sometimes struggling, through murky story lines, the ups and downs of the plot, hoping to weave your writing into some, you hope, cohesive larger piece. But when you rewrite, that is where the story starts to really come to life. Yes, this is also where you see the holes in the narrative; where dates don't match, ages are off. Details, details. And yes, all of those things have to, must be, repaired, justified. But through all this, you also are now seeing what the story really is. What it is you really want to say is finally emerging clearly through the fog.
As I write those first drafts, I really don't know where I'm going with my stories. Most of them are memoir or nonfiction, and yes, I have many parts of the narrative already laid out for me. But the underlying life of the piece, the true meaning, isn't yet clear. Ah, but during the rewriting, that is where it all begins to surface. Like bread, the real story rises, you hope, to become nourishment for the reader's soul, mind, and heart. That is what you wish for, what you strive for, and pray you can, just once, someday, somewhere, accomplish.