The other day, as I was clearing out the area in which I keep all my artsy-craftsy stuff, I discovered an old, neglected kneadable eraser. The eraser was in a sorry state of stiffness, nearly stone-like in its inflexibility. Useless.
Or was it?
Something in me saw potential in the hardened lump I held in my hand. So rather than toss it into the garbage bag, I set to work on it. My warm, practiced hands pulled at it, stretched it out, rolled it on the desk, ripped it into smaller pieces, and put those pieces back together again. When the work was done, and my fingers were sufficiently sore and tenderized, the once useless eraser was as good as new.
That is how a manuscript can be. Sometimes when a story seems useless, what it needs most is to be ripped apart and put back together again. With an eraser, it will still look like a little gray lump. But it'll work. With a story, it may not be recognizable as the same story when I come back to it. But if it works, if it does what it was originally meant to do, then all the tugging and ripping and piecing back together will be more than worth the struggle.