I’m about 3/4 of the way through my revision. I enjoy throwing around the concept of re-writers block, rather than writers block. When I’m writing a rough draft, ideas come and go, drifting between my mind and the page. Gradually, 1,000 words becomes 5,000 then 10 then 50, 000. If I write on schedule I can write 1,000 to 1,500 words a day. It’s not perfect, but the draft happens, seemingly of its own accord.
Then There’s Revision
I can’t lie. I hate revising. I feel like a guilty schoolboy trying to find any excuse to avoid my manuscript. With both novels I’ve written I have gone through what I like to call, “A trial separation” from the book. We break up. We get back together. We both get angry. Words are said that I regret. Then I take a deep breath and begin the hard work of revision. (Often, a little couples counseling helps at this point).
My Current Plan
With the book I’m working on right now, Light and Shadow, I kept copious notes from my read and critique group and every, yes EVERY single copy of the manuscript they read. At some point I will measure the height of the pile of papers. My best estimate is that it reaches almost two feet of marked up pages.
I went through all the notes and compiled trends and repeated patterns of feedback, making a list of items to address. Then came a list. Big things first, then small but important changes. This list lives in a Word document on my desktop. I haven’t closed it once in the six weeks I’ve been revising. It is the first thing I look at when I open my computer, and the last thing that sits there before I close it.
Fits and Starts
I seem to be able to make headway with the revision in small chunks at a time. I worked through the big changes at the beginning, and then slowly made my way through the manuscript making the smaller changes, cleaning up word choice, adding more details, subtracting other details. Deleting an entire character from the book!
And then … I got to the part I had been dreading. The death of a beloved character. This character is one of my favorite characters I have written. He is simple, yet interesting and vivid. But, he had to die. Without his death the emotional torment of the main character wasn’t believable enough. SO, off into character heaven he went. And yes, I cried as I wrote his death. It was brutal and difficult for both of us. Once I’d gotten through that scene, my desire to keep writing faded like morning mist.
Back at It
I took a week off, and now I am back at it. Writing, revising, deleting. I cut out an entire scene I loved, but didn’t work in the book. I’m in the home stretch I think . . . but only time will tell. I need to rewrite the ending. Again. I have written it three times already. Perhaps I will be happy with number four. Perhaps not.
At any rate, the point to today’s blog was to discuss the difficulty I experience while revising. I hear people talk about how much they enjoy it, and how easy it is once the rough draft is written. Not so much for me. I’m curious how everyone else feels about revising. Is it easy? Hard? Do you make a plan ahead of time? What is your nemesis? Give us your comments by clicking on the word comments under the title.
p.s. I finally figured out I had been directing everyone in the wrong direction to post comments. But I figured it out. Yay me!!