Thursday, February 18, 2010

Mired in the Muck

Revisions. The scourge that they are. To be honest, I have a love / hate relationship with revisions. I love taking the lump of words and reworking them into something coherent. But by the time the second run of revisions comes around, I just want to move on and do something new. I do not want to slog through the story all over again and fix all the things I missed in the first set of revisions. I want to put the story to bed so I can start sending it out into the big, bad world and then move on.

But alas, if I were to send it out too early I would be wasting my time and the editor or agent’s. And there in lies the crux of the problem. I get frustrated with my inability to pump out a pristine manuscript with only one set of revisions. I want to tear my hair out if it requires a third. Don’t even get me started on what happens when I know I am likely looking at a fourth. Possibly fifth.

I know its all part of the process. Every writer goes through it. Guaranteed we spend far more time revising than we do writing the initial first draft. That’s where the work comes in. The first draft is like play. New people, new places, new discoveries. The revision is when you take all that play and try to form it into something workable. Something someone wants to buy.

I’m in revision hell right now. It’s only the first revision and I see at least two more in my future. Right now I’m just re-piecing the story together after the frenzied writing of NaNo. Moving things around, taking out what isn’t needed, changing characters and arcs and motivations. I always feel disconnected from the characters during the first set of revisions. I’m looking more at the technical aspects – is the plot in the right order mostly. Later, in the read through (before the…sigh…next round) I’ll hopefully reconnect. But right now they have become strangers to me.

9 comments:

Melissa Marsh said...

I get really tired of my books in the revision process. In fact, there is one book of mine that I decimated so mercilessly with edits that to this day I can't stand to look at it - and it's been three years since I did the revisions.

Bonnie Ferguson said...

Sending you some good revisions vibes. The process can definitely be brutal at times.

maxx said...

They are the bane of my existence

Cat Schield said...

Before I started looking at my revisions, I went in search of some how to tips. Holly Lisle does her revisions in one pass and goes through her process. I'm not sure it would work for you, but it might be worth looking at. Maybe you could pare things down to a couple drafts instead of 4 or 5.

Lilly Cain said...

I have to say that I have stopped re-writing things. I've forced myself not to look back after a second revision unless an editor tells me it must be done. The reason is pretty simple - all I have to do to remind myself why I should NOT do a 3rd set of revisions is to think of my book Money Doesn't Count - a novel that, in all likelyhood, will never see the light of day. I HATE that book now. I'm not even actually certain it IS a book any longer.

Don't be too hard on yourself. Maybe whatever you think needs to be fixed, doesn't. It was a very hard lesson for me.

Good luck!
Lilly

Toni Anderson said...

I love editing :) Generally I enjoy revisions, except when you've gone over something for the millionth time and you don't give a monkeys anymore who does what to whom. I like them though, generally :/

Michelle Helliwell said...

Kelly - I am reading a great book on self-editing right now (the name of which escapes me, of course, but I'll let you know later). I have revised my first manuscript something like 4 times...I always wonder when you just stop seeing anything! Good luck.

Anne MacFarlane said...

I usually have a fairly cohesive first draft when I'm done. I kind of revise and rewrite as I go. That's why it takes me so long to write that first draft.

Julia Smith said...

I'm next door to your Revision Hell. It's painful over here, too. Why do we do this to ourselves?