The two books were once two plot lines of equal weight in one manuscript. The book became unwieldy--as did the timeline--so I moved one set of characters, setting them and their story a few months ahead of the other, and for a while worked on both manuscripts at once.
Again, too unwieldy. I set aside the original storyline, concentrated on the newer one (now set in spring instead of summer, because that way it flowed well into the other events).
Now, the time has come to reunite these long-lost twins. The problem? They no longer resemble one another. Their characters and plot threads still interweave, but the writing is different. The original story feels clunky, amateurish. As I mentioned to a friend, that first chunk of writing feels as if it belongs to a totally different person; I seem to be grafting the words of a stranger onto my story.
Crap must go. Much of what I once thought was so important is redundant, heavy-handed, and downright boring. In the first manuscript are about 80,000 words of self-importance that I am amazed any reader ever thought were worth crafting into a story.
On the other hand, I have a wealth of material to manipulate. I can rearrange the puzzle pieces, put one character's dialogue into a different character's mouth, change the order of events, tighten the plot, ramp up the tension, increase the action.
I will ditch 40,000 words and create a better story--but I needed all 80,000 first. Without them, I wouldn't know my characters, their cultures, their countries, et cetera. I wouldn't know how they speak, what they value, what they've left behind and are striving to regain. I wouldn't know how to tell the story.